Reed Tetzloff presented a concert at the Aventura Arts Center on March 26, 2023. The program consisted of works by Berg, Ives, Beethoven, and Brahms.
This was a very long and challenging program, with not one moment to slack and intense concentration essential from the first to the last note. The program started with the tortured intricacies of Berg’s Sonata, followed by the complexities of Ives’ Three-page Sonata. These relatively short works require an enormous amount of time to learn and play them well and even more effort to have the courage to play them from memory --there was no tablet here. Tetzloff loves and understands these scores, evident by the magnificence of his renditions.
It helps that Tetzloff is such a formidable speaker. A brief and illuminating narrative preceded every work in a way people understood (unlike the typical academic obscurity). For most people, Berg and Ives would be unintelligible without some explanation. The ability to speak as well as Tetzloff does is essential to the cause of classical music. Leonard Bernstein, to give one example, brought millions to appreciate what would otherwise be difficult for many to decipher what is going on. At a time of declining audiences for classical music, every performer should be required to emulate Reed Tetzloff.
Tetzloff was admirable in Beethoven’s Op. 53 (“Waldstein”). This sonata and the subsequent Op. 57 are Beethoven in his most temperamental and virtuoso period. In the “Waldstein,” Beethoven wrote some very odd technical and musical intricacies, especially in the last movement, among other things, trills and glissandos not well suited for most pianists’ hands. Perhaps Beethoven wanted to prevent “ordinary” pianists from trying this stunning work. Even great professionals wrestle with some of this writing, but not Reed Tetzloff. For him, there were no problems. Instead, he concentrated on playing beautifully and excitingly.
Brahms was a 20-year-old when he completed the immense five-movement Third Sonata. But this work is more like a 60-year-old composer pondering a lifetime of ups and downs. From the massive and heroic orchestral sounds, the most sensitive and meditative song-like movements, the joyful dancing of the Scherzo, and the triumphant finale, this sonata is like one of those paintings where every imaginable color is in the canvas. Tetzloff was a master in bringing out all the possible shades a piano can offer.
After the monumental Sonata by Brahms, Tetzloff was apparently not exhausted enough to play three very effective encores. Yet, there was never a letdown in the quality of his playing to the last note. This was a memorable concert.