Wednesday, March 10, 2010

American pianist Richard Goode gives his first Israei recital in Jerusalem

American pianist Richard Goode gave his first Israeli recital March 6th 2010 in the Henry Crown Auditorium of the Jerusalem Theatre. Proceeds of the recital were generously donated by the artist towards the Aldwell Center’s program which nurtures young Israeli pianists. Maestro Goode followed the recital with master classes in conjunction with the Edward Aldwell International Center, the Jerusalem Music Centre, the Arthur Rubinstein International Music Society and the Conservatory of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

Born in New York, Goode has a varied schedule - he performs, teaches and records extensively. One of today’s leading- and most daring interpreters of Beethoven’s music, Goode has recorded the complete Beethoven Sonata cycle and ,recently in 2009, he recorded all five Beethoven piano concertos.

The Henry Crown Auditorium was alive with excitement and curiosity in anticipation of the recital. The program began with an item that was decidedly unusual for a piano recital –William Byrd’s (1543-1623) second- and third Pavan and Galliard from “My Ladye Nevells Booke” (1591), a collection of 42 keyboard pieces for the virginal. (Lady Nevell, possibly a pupil of Byrd, was Francis Bacon’s half-sister and the third wife of Sir Henry Nevell of Billingbere.) Placing emphasis on the majestic boldness of the pavans, Goode arpeggiates and ornaments them profusely, still, however, addressing the importance of perfect intervals and clean lines. He lets go in the galliards, presenting the vitality of the faster court dance as well as its hemiolas and abandon. A daring choice, but certainly well thought-out and interesting.

J.S.Bach’s (1685-1750) Partita no.6 in E minor BWV 830, composed some time between 1725 and 1730 and published in 1731, is grand both in length and in its profound expression. Goode’s reading of the opening lengthy Toccata is contemplative and spontaneous and, in his playing of it, he prepares his audience for the runs and ornamental passagework with which he is to spice his playing of the entire suite. Throughout the work, we are a witness to the artist’s amazing agility and lightness of touch, as in the Corrente, where Goode’s swift, brilliant, feather-light playing underlines key notes and syncopations. Altogether, he identifies with Bach’s taste for unusual shapes that ignore bar-lines, and his playing is intellectual and virtuosic. The relaxed and clean lines of the court dance were not of high priority.

Although leaving his native Poland at age 19, Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) began his composing with a Polonaise and ended it with a Mazurka. He composed 58 Mazurkas, bringing them to the concert stage as finely crafted miniatures that reflect his background and originality, inviting the performer to play along with their moods, modes, dissonances and textures. performing four Chopin Mazurkas, Goode’s reading of them is delicate, flexible, his attention to motifs and Slavic scales combined with spontaneity. In Mazurka Opus 50 no.4 in C sharp minor, Goode’s rich palette colors the dance with nostalgia, the various dance episodes each different in concept. He guides the listener through a texture fashioned of folk rhythms, counterpoint, modal harmonies and chromatic writing, laying bare phrases written as a single melodic line, presenting Chopin’s richness of ideas through his own magical touch.

Goode then played Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantasy Opus 61 ( published 1846). Giving this demanding and emotional “rollercoaster” a vivid and intense reading, Goode punctuates complex sections with sensitive, cantabile melodic moments that are intensely human. The Chopin content of the recital surely ties in with 2010 as the World Chopin Year.

The recital ended with the artist’s performance of Robert Schumann’s (1810-1856) “Kreisleriana” Opus 16, completed by the composer within four days in April of 1838. The title refers to the fictitious Johannes Kreisler, a brilliant and eccentric conductor, characterized in the works of E.T.A Hoffmann, but it may also refer to his future wife Clara Wieck, who had created some of the motifs used by Schumann throughout the work.. Goode’s masterful and imaginative treatment of the eight fantasias combines the typically Schumannesque stormy- and vulnerable sides; weaving weakness and strength into languishing, contemplative moments, Goode “orchestrates” the piano in a soundscape of mixed harmonies and multiple textures, his careful timing adding to the meaning of the work. His many-faceted performance of “Kreisleriana” thrilled the audience.

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