VIRTUOSO SERIES, Dmitry Rachmanov, piano, Libby Gardner Concert Hall, Sept. 29
Pianist Dmitry Rachmanov is an unknown in Utah. That’s probably one of the reasons why he played his debut recital Saturday in a nearly empty Libby Gardner Concert Hall. A lack of marketing and poor planning no doubt also contributed to the small turnout.
That being said, the people who stayed away Saturday missed an absolutely enjoyable recital program that featured Beethoven, Liszt and Schumann, played by a pianist of remarkable musicality and virtuosity.
The evening began with Beethoven’s Six Variations in F, op. 34. Beethoven spans the classical and romantic periods, and this dichotomy is clearly evident in these variations. The music has classical structure yet romantic fervor, and Rachmanov found a balance between the two in his account. His crisp, cleanly articulated phrases were imbued with nicely hued expressiveness.
The remainder of the first half was devoted to Liszt, both original pieces and transcriptions.
Rachmanov opened this section with Liszt’s own Valse Oubliée, no. 1, and Funéraillles, from Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses. He played both with flair and finely crafted virtuosity, never letting the bravura writing get in the way of the underlying lyricism.
He followed this with a set of four transcriptions of Schubert songs: Frühlingsglaube, Ständchen von Shakespeare, Ständchen and Erlkönig. There is a wonderful variety in the transcriptions Liszt made of these delightful pieces, ranging from the simple to the virtuosic, and Rachmanov picked a good sampling. The four allowed him to put his striking musicality on display in the manner in which he molded the phrases with subtle nuances. And even in the more daunting transcriptions, Rachmanov never let the bravura passages overshadow the intrinsic lyricism of the original.
The recital concluded with Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, op. 13, one of the composer’s major works and one of the most significant works for piano of the 19th century.
It takes a performer of great stamina, technique and interpretive skills to make this 30-minute piece work. Rachmanov showed that he has what it takes. It was a wonderfully vibrant account filled with nuances and subtle shadings. He delved into the music and captured the unique character of each of the dozen etudes.