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Peeter Laul and friends

Concert Hall, Pärnu
07/17/2013 -  
Richard Wagner: Lohengrin: “Elsa's Dream” and “Bridal Procession” – Der fliegende Holländer: “Spinning Song” – Parsifal: “March of the Holy Grail” – Tristan und Isolde: “Liebestod” – Tannhäuser: Overture (arr. Franz Liszt)
Ernest Chausson: Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet in D Major, Op. 21

Anna-Liisa Bezrodny, Lasse Joamets, Vivika Sapori-Sudemäe (violin), Johanna Vahermägi (viola), Leho Karin (cello), Peeter Laul (piano)

P. Laul (Courtesy the Pärnu Festival)

“Peeter Laul and Friends” brought together Leningrad-born pianist Peeter Laul and other distinguished artists of the 2013 Pärnu Music Festival, including violinist Anna-Liisa Bezrodny and violinists Lasse Joamets and Vivika Sapori-Sudamäe, violist Johanna Vahermägi and cellist Leho Karin July 17 in Pärnu’s Kontserdimaja (Concert Hall). The two-part program was half pianistic fireworks, with transcriptions by Franz Liszt of opera excerpts by Richard Wagner, and half Ernest Chausson, i.e. his 1891 Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet.

Laul provided an arresting tribute to Wagner on his 100th anniversary. It might have been Liszt himself on the keys, so transfixing was Laul’s performance of these virtuosic showpieces, which included excerpts from five Wagner operas. There was bravura to burn here, as well as affecting lightness, with consummate voicing and balances and gestures closely attuned to the musical moment. “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral” from Lohengrin built to the requisite majesty, while Laul was all over the keys in “Spinning Song” from Der fliegende Holländer. In “March of the Holy Grail” from Parsifal, he followed a long-held ending with a soft epilogue evoking the tolling of bells. Needless to say, the “Liebestod” from Tristan and Isolde reached a shattering climax, and the Overture to Tannhäuser, which completed the set, was stirring in the extreme. Also needless to say, his piano (a Steinway) underwent complete re-tuning at intermission.

Chausson’s 1891 Concert was a revelation and a daunting achievement in the hands of Laul, Bezrodny and the quartet comprising Joamets, Sapori-Sudemäe, Vahermägi and Karin. Following three big strokes of a germinal motto motif, Bezrodny entered with a luscious exposition. The gently rocking theme of the “Sicilienne” gave way to more sweeping passages, and the “Grave” which followed grew quite intense. Most remarkable for sheer stamina was the “Très animé” finale, where Bezrodny played constantly in the highest register of her instrument (an observation applicable to the work as a whole, perhaps for reasons of projection and balance).

Mary Ellyn Hutton



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