Rocky River Chamber Music Society:
Spencer Myer, piano, with Sungeun Kim (October 1)
by Guytano Parks
The Rocky River Chamber Music Society opened its 54th season on a brilliant note with a concert featuring pianist Spencer Myer, Gold Medalist of the 2008 New Orleans International Piano Competition. He has won prizes in many other major competitions and is a laureate of the 2005 Cleveland International Piano Competition. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and The Julliard School and currently residing in New York, Mr. Myer appears regularly as soloist with major orchestras and on concert series internationally garnering stellar audience and critical acclaim and distinguishing himself as one of this generation's outstanding pianists. He has recorded on the Naxos, Harmonia Mundi and Dimension Records labels.
Mr. Myer is a native of Northeast Ohio and his fans were out in full force on Monday evening for the happy homecoming, packing West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church to capacity. This particular visit to Ohio includes tonight's performance in Rocky River plus subsequent appearances in Oberlin and Columbus. This evening's program revealed Spencer Myer to be a highly communicative pianist interpreting with marvelous musicianship and technical proficiency, with a deep reverence to the score and a keen ability to illuminate and project the intent of the composer.
Opening the program with a finely crafted account of Haydn's Sonata No. 54 in G, the pianist articulated phrasings which were both classically crisp and expressively nuanced. The Allegretto benefitted from a detailed yet improvisatory-sounding reading and the Presto delighted with its spontaneity, charm and wit.
Mr. Myer's affinity for the music of Debussy was apparent as he impressed with four Preludes from that composer's Book I. Within an impressionistic sound world far removed from that of the Classical period, the pianist drew forth from the instrument glowing sonorities, layered and at times melting away with a natural sense of ebb and flow. Also rife with sparks of jaunty rhythmic figures and fragmentary melodic material, these pieces afforded Mr. Myer the opportunity to demonstrate his full understanding and command of all of the piano's sonic resources.
Joining Mr. Myer in Schubert's masterwork, the Fantasia in f, Op. 103 for piano, four hands was Sungeun Kim, Assistant Professor of Piano and Chair of the Keyboard Department at Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory of Music. Penned during the year of his death and dedicated to Caroline Esterhazy, this poignantly narrative piece reveals a sense of forlorn and ceaseless wandering through its four movements which are connected without pause. The duo achieved a remarkable perfection of balance, breathing and phrasing as one. The rapt audience clung onto every note and dramatic pause.
Revealing himself to be both extrovert and introvert in the music of Liszt (1811-1886), Mr. Myer delivered readings of the Sonettos del Petrarca 47, 104 and 123 (originally composed for tenor and piano) which were utterly breathtaking. As the pianist spun lines of lyrical beauty, luxuriating in Liszt's shimmering and opulent harmonies, he met all the daunting technical challenges to great effect, and fittingly, never overshadowed the singing line. There was vulnerability and deep emotion in this performance which came as close to the human singing voice as is possible. Again, the audience was spellbound, savoring every ravishing detail.
Albeniz's Iberia — four books of three pieces each — is to the piano what Respighi's tone poems are to the orchestra. Highly evocative and romantic, Book IV consists of Malaga (evoking the malaguena), Jerez (the city which produces sherry) and Eritana (an inn where the flamenco is danced). Here the pianist played with splendid sweep and abandon, relishing in his traversal through this brilliant and virtuosic work as Spanish rhythms crackled, melodies sang out and bravura was teeming. This led way to more fireworks in Moszkowski's Caprice Espagnol, op. 37, a short, unabashed showpiece featuring rapidly repeated notes with a central section of lilting sensuality. Mr. Myer was perfectly at home pulling this trick from his sleeve.
The capacity crowd gave the pianist a well earned ovation and was rewarded with three encores: a penetratingly hypnotic Bach-Siloti Prelude in b, a fleet-fingered Hexentanz by MacDowell and Earl Wild's virtuosic transcription of Gershwin's I Got Rhythm.
The Gershwin may serve as a tantalizing foreshadowing of Spencer Myer's upcoming “Fascinating Rhythm” concert with soprano Maribeth Crawford presented as part of the Cleveland International Piano Competition's “Piano Paloozas” on Sunday, November 11 at the newly renovated DoubleTree by Hilton — Tudor Arms Hotel.
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Published on ClevelandClassical.com October 4, 2012
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