The program started with a beautifully played transcription of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. In the first movement, Noack imaginatively created the different shades between the tuttis and solo sections. Bach himself made many all-string concerto arrangements for piano, so Noack’s version felt natural and well fit for the piano. The relentless runs of the third movement were particularly admirable.
Reading that the program included a transcription of Rimsky-Korsakov’s famous Sheherazade, I was skeptical that the amazing orchestral colors of this master of orchestration — and inspiration to Ravel, Stravinsky, and other great orchestrators — could be reproduced with the severe limitations inherent in a piano. However, Noack most creatively and musically succeeded in making this a successful piano work, played with great sensitivity and temperament. Noack’s transcription made us forget about the violin, clarinet, flute, or bassoon solos. It was a piano work gorgeously played. Noack loved playing his creation, and that enjoyment was projected to the audience.
There were beautiful moments in the Liszt and Lyapunov Transcendental Etudes (the first part of Lyapunov’s Berceuse was particularly poignant) and unfailing impressive technical skills. Noack has a great affinity for Lyapunov, outwardly unperturbed while dealing with a Tsunami of wave after wave of notes. In the Etude by Liszt, “Agitato molto” in f minor, the underlying character is based on a syncopated theme, projecting anxiety, perhaps despair. Possibly because of the breathtaking pace, the syncopation was not always clear. That, however, is a minuscule speck in an otherwise exciting and technically magnificent performance.
Indeed, Florian Noack is a remarkable, creative, and original pianist. One looks forward to hearing him again.