MUSIC TORONTO:CHAMBER MUSIC DOWNTOWN reviewed by Stanley Fefferman

Tuesday, October 31, 2006, 8pm, Jane Mallett Theatre.
SIMON TRPCESKI
, pianist.

As Simon Trpceski shapes the closing section of Chopin’s “Fourth Scherzo, in E Major, Op. 54”, one has the sense of a lovely sea-breeze blowing through french doors that open onto a patio overlooking a starlit sea murmuring of endless love. The audience in Jane Mallett Theatre rises to its feet and their applause earns four encores, including Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”, which Trpceski plays wearing a mask in honour of Halloween.

The four Brahms Intermezzo’s (Op.117 and Op.118 No.2) that opened the evening introduced the Toronto audience to Trpceski’s touch which is polished smooth and even: whether he’s playing fortissimo or pianissimo there is a signature sense of control and rightness. These works, being from the composer’s later years, are gentle, poignant and reflective. Brahms referred to them by phrases such as “cradle of my sorrows,” and “lullaby of all my griefs”. Trpceski’s playing somehow brings out the narrative or recitative quality of the melodies. Oddly, one has the thought that Kurt Weill and Jacques Brel knew these pieces and learned from them how to tell a nostalgic story.

A member of the audience we interviewed at intermission had this to say about the performance:

“I felt that the Brahms “Three Intermezzos, Op. 117” were played as if they were a bit of an exercise for what was to come later. I didn’t feel they had any meaning or that Trpceski had anything to say with them. Trpceski’s strength is his very fine feeling about things, but he needs to play a piece that has something to say before that feeling finds a vehicle. The Brahms “Op.118” was quite interesting and had something to say to me. The Debussy “Images II” was just marvelous, clouds floating, dispersing and changing. Technically fabulous and warmth with feeling: my kind of Debussy. Mind you, in the third piece from “Images”, when he became very fast and forceful, there was something very not right about it. I liked the first two Debussy pieces better.”

After the intermission, Trpceski played Scriabin’s “Piano Sonata No. 2 in G sharp minor, Opus 19”, published in 1897, after Scriabin’s honeymoon trip to the Black Sea (the Sea’s moods provided the composer with an underlying programme for the music). The first movement, Andante, begins with romantic echoing effects, followed by two nostalgic lyrical sections. After a rhapsodic, stormy climax, the piece subsides, modulating to E major and the lyrical liquid tones of the first sections are restated. The second movement Presto, in sharp contrast to the first movement, is very fast and intense. Alternating crescendos and decrescendos suggest the impression of waves, or the hectic traffic of the bloodstream. Trpceski navigates the rapidly shifting velocities and densities in a masterly fashion and brings the final crashing chords to quietus in a safe harbour.

Chamber Music Downtown, presented by Music Toronto, in its 35th season with the assistance of many private and corporate donors including Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage. For more information contact: email:admin@music-toronto.com, and http://www.music-toronto.com

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