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RECITAL REVIEW

Jeffrey LaDeur July 17 at Spring Lake Village

PUNGENT WALTZES AND VIRTUOSITY IN LADEUR'S SLV RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 17, 2019

San Francisco based pianist Jeffrey LaDeur has become one of the most sought-after North Bay virtuosi, and cemented that reputation July 17 in a short but eclectic recital in Santa Rosaís Spring Lake Village Chamber Music Series.

Before 140 in the Villageís auditorium Mr. LaDeur began with Schubertís lovely E-Flat Major work from the Drei KlavierstŁcke, D. 946, a piece from the composerís last year that juxtaposes an energetic section with modulations into with two poignant episodes. He played it at a good clip with admirable clarity, at times a little to fast with scant attention to phrase ending ritards. The pianist inserted beguiling short pauses, reminiscent of much Schubert from the early ďGrazerĒ Fantasy to the last B-Flat Sonata. It was convincing if a tad perfunctory.

In remarks to the audience Mr. LaDeur spoke of three Schubert Waltzes from Twelve Valses Nobles, D. 969, and how they influenced Ravel. Two he played were lilting and effective, the second familiar from Lisztís transcription in his Soirťes de Vienne and beguiling in recordings of Rosenthal and Horowitz. All the Schubert was played from score, and proved that the great composerís music should not be sentimental but full of sentiment. The pianistís interpretation was often aggressive and right hand thirds never failed him.

Two of Ravelís works from the early 1900s came next, the popular Valses Nobles et Sentimentales and the first part (Ondine) from the exciting Gaspard de la Nuit suite of 1908. Mr. LaDeur prefaced the seven Waltzes by showing at the piano how masterfully Ravel transfigured Schubertís muses, with dissonances and sound that he characterized as sometimes ďan out of tune guitar and a car horn.Ē

Playing without score the pianistís interpretation was the eveningís highlight with many small climaxes, elegantly shaped themes, pedal point in the bass and in the one really fast dance a circus-like feeling. It was a reading that could quickly change from shrillness to a slow atmospheric sonority and finally a beautiful concluding shimmer of sound. Captivating.

Ondine is usually played quite fast (as is the last piece in the Suite, Scarbo) but Mr. LaDeurís approach featured a judicious tempo, aiming again for clarity and artful balance between the hands. His pedaling never allowed the music to become blurred, even with the forte descending bass phrases that the hallís piano produced with a palpable roar. Of course many in the audience wanted the two ending movements, but the time schedule did not permit it, and the pianist closed with Chopinís Op. 46 Allegro de Concert.

It was a muscular interpretation of the rarely heard work, said to be a discarded attempt by Chopin of a third concerto. Here in 12 minutes Mr. LaDeur didnít let much air into the piece with little consideration to slowing at phrase endings and cantilena secondary to momentum, although there was charm in the tunes that as in all Chopin are operatic, and the pianistís clean scales and fast appoggiaturas were splendid. Itís a work than can easily be overplayed but, well, it is a scintillating showpiece, and Mr. LaDeurís virtuosity produced a standing ovation and happy faces from Spring Lake Village residents.

No encore was offered.