JASON HARDINK, PIANO, “SCHUBERT AND THE SECOND VIENNESE SCHOOL,” Libby Gardner Concert Hall, University of Utah, April 7

Jason Hardink continued his exploration of the piano music of Franz Schubert and the Second Viennese School Thursday in Libby Gardner Concert Hall. The four-part series focuses on Schubert’s late works and on the complete solo works of Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg. And since both Webern and Berg only wrote one such work apiece, the Second Viennese School is principally represented by Schoenberg.

Thursday’s recital was the third of the four and Hardink, the Utah Symphony’s pianist who is on sabbatical from the orchestra this season, played Schoenberg’s Suite, op. 25, and Schubert’s Moments musicaux, op. 94, in the first half. But instead of playing each work through as a whole, Hardink decided to break them up and alternated movements from the Suite with the pieces from the Moments musicaux.

In playing the two works in this manner, Hardink obviously wanted to show a correlation between them. It might be a stretch, but there are some striking parallels, even though the musical languages are a galaxy apart. The disjointed angularity of Schoenberg’s 12-tone works is mirrored to some extent in the abrupt key changes and shifts in mood in Schubert’s music. But no matter how hard one tries to justify this kind of approach in playing these works – and there is an intellectual basis for doing it like this – it nevertheless destroys any cohesiveness, especially in the Schoenberg.

Be that as it may, Hardink gave a stellar performance of the Suite. His playing was wonderfully articulated and compellingly virtuosic. He made sense of the intricacies of the score and brought a surprisingly fluid lyricism to his account.

His playing of the Schubert was no less articulated and nuanced. It was expressive and musical and his light touch captured the rich harmonic colors and exquisite lyricism of each piece.

The second half opened with Berg’s Sonata, op. 1. Infused with dense textures and deep rooted emotions, Hardink captured the broad gestures of the one-movement work with his bold playing. His account was perceptive and nuanced and underscored the romanticism that propels it.

Schubert’s massive Sonata in A major, D. 959, closed out the program. Hardink brought virtuosity and finely honed expressiveness to his account of this towering work. His playing was imaginative and captured the expansiveness of the music wonderfully. It’s a daunting piece for any pianist, but Hardink surmounted the challenges easily and gave a performance that was effusive and gorgeously musical.

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About Edward Reichel

Edward Reichel, author, writer and composer, has been covering the classical music scene in Utah since 1997. For many years he served as the primary music critic for the Deseret News. He has also written for a number of publications, including Chamber Music Magazine, OPERA Magazine, 15 Bytes, Park City Magazine and Salt Lake Magazine. He holds a Ph.D. in composition from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He can be reached at ed.reichel@gmail.com. Reichel Recommends is also on Twitter @ReichelArts.

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