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Pianistic excitement

Jack Singer Concert Hall
09/10/2015 -  
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Pianos Concerto No. 9 in E-flat major, K. 271 [1], & No. 24 in C minor, K. 491 [2]
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 [3]

Luca Buratto [1], Artem Yasynskyy [2], Henry Kramer [3] (pianists)
The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Yan Pascal Tortelier (conductor)

L. Buratto, H. Kramer & A. Yasynskyy
(Courtesy of the Honens Piano Competition)

The first of the two final concerts of the 2015 Honens International Piano Competition, this one featuring works from the classical era, got off to a fine start with Luca Buratto's performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9, the work that is considered to herald the start of the 21-year-old composer's fully mature (and glorious) style.

The orchestra had barely more than 30 players and sounded surprisingly rich in the 1800-seat hall. In the opening allegro movement, descriptives like nimble, jaunty, dashing, and galante come to mind to describe Buratto's playing. (By the way, he opted for a Steinway for this performance, after using a Fazioli for his two semifinal recitals.)

The Andantino featured sensuous phrasing with everything just so. Buratto displays a few gestural mannerisms, but his playing is not mannered. The final movement (Rondo: Presto) was taken very fast and the orchestra was with him all the way. Overall it was brisk and bracing, but never dry. The cadenza provided a restful interlude within this playful performance. The audience loved it.

Next up was Henry Kramer who had chosen Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3, with the orchestra now numbering more than 60 players. The opening Allegro con brio had lots of both allegro and brio, and was always well paced. The cadenza featured more of the marvelous sculptural quality the pianist displayed in his semifinal solo recital. The Largo movement was nicely defined and then there was a quick start to the final Rondo: Allegro, featuring fine and delicate work from both soloist and orchestra. Audience furor!

The third item on the program, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24, did not fare as well and I can't fault the pianist, 26-year-old Ukrainian Artem Yasynskyy. The orchestra was somewhat larger than for the earlier Mozart work, with 40 or so players, and it started the opening Allegro in a heavy, ungainly, fashion. Yasynskyy's playing was thoughtful, with liquid runs, and a cadenza with an appropriately romantic tint. At the end of the movement the orchestra paused for retuning, an indicator that things had not started all that well. The second movement (Larghetto) went well, and the third movement (Allegretto) featured some fine contributions from the orchestra - notably some bassoon solo work. Still there was some disagreement regarding tempos, with the pianist (always, limpid and deft) constantly ahead of the orchestra. Yasynskyy kept on with gentlemanly aplomb, but it seemed that the work hadn't received adequate rehearsal. This is a pity, as the orchestra under Yan Pascal Tortelier was in fine accord with the first two pianists.

Michael Johnson



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