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Choral and Vocal
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RECITAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Sunday, October 8, 2017
Nikolay Khozyainov, piano

Pianist Nikolay Khozyainov

PIANISTIC COMMAND IN SCHROEDER RECITAL

by
Sunday, October 8, 2017

Nikolay Khozyainov’s Oct. 8 debut at the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall was one of those rare moments in a young artist’s career when a performance approaches perfection. From the opening notes of Beethoven’s A-Flat Major Sonata (Op. 110) through a delightful recital ending transcription, the artist brought the good-sized Sunday afternoon audience along with him on a wonderful journey through a challenging and eclectic program.

Khozyainov’s personality shown throughout, although his physical relationship to the piano was reminiscent of Artur Rubinstein’s restrained body movements. For this pianist the playing was all in the fingers and feet, and whose alacrity was on constant display. There were no smudges or over pedaling as all the notes, chords and runs were clearly presented in a well thought out interpretation of each piece.

The Beethoven Sonata seemed to grab the audience’s attention from the first lyrical notes. While his playing was light-fingered in the faster sections, he never sacrificed warmth of instrumental tone. The effect was mesmerizing. His skills as a pianist combined with a youthful willingness to provide his unique interpretations on familiar repertory presaged what was to come.

Schumann’s C Major Fantasy, Opus 17, revealed a fresh approach to the 1836 work that is dedicated to Liszt. Choosing sharply contrasting tempos and dynamics, Mr. Khozyainov mounted an interpretation that resisting a common impulse to over-romanticize the composition. Here his fleet fingers produced dramatic effects without giving the impression that he was in any way rushing his performance. At the intermission which followed many audience members were involved in animated conversations and sharing their pleasure with the performances in the first half.

San Francisco composer Gordon Getty’s four short pieces piece followed intermission and was a complete change of pace. Each movement (First Adventure, Raise the Colors, Andantino and Scherzo Pensieroso) is a colorful study in minimalistic composition. Harmonically pleasing each in its own way, the movements were presented by Mr. Khozyainov as little musical picture boxes. Here the playing resembled a master pastelist’s knowing application of color and movement to a canvas. It was sonically breathtaking.

The program concluded with the Lisztian pyrotechnics of the 1863 Spanish Rhapsody. While actually not as rhythmically Spanish sounding as other of Liszt’s compositions written following his travels to Spain, the Rhapsody offers technical challenges that were laid to waste by the pianist’s formidable technical command. His fingers were so fast that he was able to create an almost glissando effect in several passages, and it gave the work an exciting interpretive stamp. Despite the Rhapsody’s technical demands and length, the artist’s energy never flagged, and the audience response was loud and long.

There was one encore, Liszt’s 1838 transcription of the Overture from Rossini’s 1828 opera William Tell. After the long three-minute introduction, the playing provided a musical adrenaline rush on which to end the concert, and the audience rose to their feet in thunderous applause.