REFLECTIONS ON THE SPECTACULAR OPENING CONCERT AT THE AVENTURA ARTS AND CULTURAL CENTER
On Sunday, October 22, at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center, an unusual concert took place: three piano concertos, three different soloists, orchestra, and conductor. Such a multifaceted program involving so many performers would preclude the chances of complete success since it would be expected that at least one will be a weak link. The sold-out audience — at a time when the words "sold out" in classical concerts are becoming infrequent — had the rare opportunity to hear a concert where everyone —the orchestra, the conductor, and all three soloists — shined. The concert was a complete success.
The concert started with Ariel Lanyi playing the great Beethoven Concerto No. 1 in C major. It had authority, brilliance, and complete command of the young Beethoven's virtuoso writing. The gravitas of the slow movement was particularly poignant. Lanyi used a Beethoven cadenza that is sometimes avoided because it is wild — Beethoven with a little too much whiskey. I always felt that while writing this outlandish cadenza, Beethoven was probably laughing hysterically at its silliness and ending with chords representing the final Ja! Ja! Lanyi was spectacular throughout.
Kemal Gekic played Chopin's Fantasy on Polish Airs Op. 13 — a teenage composer trying to imitate the celebrated virtuoso Hummel. It is rarely played because it is considered a not a very good piece —at least that is what I used to think until I heard Gekic play. It turned out to be an outstanding work. I now realize this technically and harmonically complex score is not well-liked because ordinary concert pianists make a mess of it. Gekic has no problems; everything seems so smooth; gliding on the keyboard the music comes alive. Chopin should be grateful for Gekic's reincarnation of this fantasy into a beautiful composition.
In the well-known Andante Spianato — Chopin was already a mature 24-year-old — Kemal was wonderful. The incredibly beautiful Andante Spianato made us think how beautiful this world is and how a man can be so inspiring. Gekic made us forget, at least for a moment, the horrors going on presently. The Polonaise had oomph and, the last part, crystalline breathtaking speed of a hundred notes per second. Pianists in the audience sat listening in awe and envy.
Reed Tetzloff played the beloved Schumann Concerto magnificently. We have heard this concerto ten thousand times. We know every note of it, so it is immensely enjoyable to listen to a performance without being disappointed by a passage here or there, as is the case in most performances of this concerto, often by self-absorbed pianists trying to impress us with some "novel" ideas unrelated to Schumann's score. For Tezloff, Schumann's writing has all the beauty in the world; no need to put mustaches on the Mona Lisa. Honest and faithful beauty was his focus, thus an outstanding performance.
The stealthy hero of the night was Hobart Earle, the great conductor of the Odessa Philharmonic, honoring us with his presence on the Florida shores. Throughout the evening, he was amazing with the different composers' styles and following the performer's diverse temperaments. How lucky the three pianists to have such a faithful and sympathetic collaborator! Unlike most conductors, Earle was not trying to upstage the soloists with a collection of antics. After hearing and seeing Hobart Earle conduct, I will refrain from making jokes about conductors for quite a while.
With so many performers, video recordings, hundreds of coordinating decisions to make, and an equal number of bills to pay, this concert is not the product of a company of 35 staffers. It is Giselle Brodsky with a couple of assistants who produce all that webbing by working day and night throughout the year. It is Giselle's passion for music. All of us, the musicians, the audience, the community, and the world of music at large, must express our admiration and debt of gratitude for the prodigious effort she makes year after year.
Pianist & Author of "THE TYRANNY OF TRADITION IN PIANO TEACHING"