The tenth Southeastern Piano Festival (SEPF) is now in full swing; the Piano Extravaganza Concert was Sunday evening followed by a concert played by two SEPF alumni (music on this program included three American premieres) and 16-year-old pianist George Li gave a stunning recital Tuesday evening.
Last night, Boris Slutsky (pronounced Slewt-skee) played a deeply personal recital of music by Mozart, Schumann and Chopin.
The Rondo in A minor, K. 511 is a very private piece of music, composed by Mozart as he was just coming off a few years of monetary and musical successes. During this time he purchased a fine fortepiano from a famous Viennese piano maker Anton Walter for around 900 florins, or about a year’s salary worth. But, In 1787, the Mozart’s financial situation worsened and would stay that way until Wolfgang’s death in 1791.
I can see Mozart playing this piece in his chamber lit by candle light on the fine fortepiano with a small glass of strong drink and despair. Mr. Slutsky brought the audience there, if not a bit too heavy handedly.
Talk about deeply reflective music, look at Robert Schumann’s Kreisleriana! Mr. Slutsky ripped into the opening and into the dangerous leap in the right hand that repeats a few more times. Mr. Slutsky missed it the first time but played the next leaps perfectly with intensity. Mr. Slutsky’s Kreisleriana was one of the best put together I’ve heard in terms of an overarching structure. The ending of Sehr aufgeregt was particularly exciting. He played Sehr langsam, a dreamy children’s song—I am reminded of Kinderszenen—quite beautifully.
Kreisleriana is not the most perfect of Schumann’s opus, but it is a piece that will haunt your dreams, an effect aided by Mr. Slutsky’s playing.
Before the concert, Marina Lomazov, the director and founder of SEPF, came to the stage to a roar of cheers from the festival’s student participants to announce a program change: instead of two pieces from Miroirs, there will be two Chopin Etudes, Op. 25, No. 7 and Op. 10, No. 4, both in C-sharp Minor. Lomazov also mentioned something about a surprise announcement on Saturday.
The even, well-balanced tone Mr. Slutsky produced in Chopin’s Barcarolle was the best all evening. The two etudes—a speaking duo of Op. 25, No. 7 and a fiery Op. 10, no. 4—followed. He played a Chopin Nocturne and finished with Polonaise-Fantaisie, one of Chopin’s most mature compositions.
Imagine a world without Chopin. This is what I pondered after Mr. Slutsky whisked off the last notes of an encore: Chopin’s Nocturne in F-sharp Major, Op. 15, No. 2.
You haven’t missed everything yet, Alessio Bax plays music by Brahms, Rachmaninoff and Liszt, tonight at 7:30 p.m. In the School of Music Recital Hall.