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November 5, 2012

Solo Piano

Murray Perahia played at Avery Fisher Hall last night, in the first Carnegie concert since the hurricane.  He was supposed to perform at Carnegie's Stern Hall on Friday, but the huge broken crane that has been dangling over 57th Street since last Monday night kept Carnegie itself closed, so the performance was moved to Sunday at Lincoln Center.

Perahia was a consummate, elegant musician throughout, neither catering to the audience nor ignoring them. Instead, he communed solely and fervently with the absent masters he had brought along with him in his memory and his fingers--Haydn, Schubert, Beethoven (the "moonlight" sonata, which for once didn't sound like a cliché), Schumann, and Chopin.  The audience went wildest over the Schumann Faschingsschwank aus Wein and the two concluding Chopin pieces; I loved the Schubert best, not only the scheduled Moments musicaux, but also, and especially, the lovely Impromptu (Op. 90, No. 4) that Perahia performed as the first encore.  

Like everyone else in the audience, I was delighted to be at the performance, but for me, given the events of the past week, it felt less like a normal concert than a metaphor about how fragile civilization really is. I suppose it will take me a while to recover from the feeling of being without power (in both senses of the word), but the useful aspect of that experience, for now, is that it gives an added lustre to everything that seemed routine before.  Even the way the concert hall is lit and arranged now seems meaningful to me--that staunch, strong soloist sitting before us at his gigantic, unmodified, unelectrified instrument, projecting his sound out into the darkened realm where we listen in silence, warmed by his presence and the presence of all those around us.
November 5, 2012 5:40 AM | | Comments (0)

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