by Daniel Hathaway
Cleveland, OH — July 31, 2011
Two Russian pianists simply ran away with Sunday evening’s session at the Cleveland Play House. Mr. Alexey Chernov (28) and Mr. Denis Evstuhin (30), third and fourth in the evening’s lineup, pulled off stunning back-to-back performances which inspired multiple “bravos” from the audience.
Mr. Chernov, who crafted a memorable Mozart Sonata on Thursday evening, wowed us with his interpretation of Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes tonight. The piece has a complicated history and can provide pianists with a real storytelling challenge, but Mr. Chernov made it seem like Schumann’s own Pictures at an Exhibition, so neatly did he frame each of its movements, infusing them with individual character and giving us a moment to admire each of them before moving on to the next. He miraculously achieved dark colors and clear textures at once, expertly layered voices, suspended time now and again, voiced chords dryly but still gave them weight and hue, treated multiple repetitions of chords with individual inflections and spun delicate poetry that Schumann would surely have admired. His sense of pacing was infallable, and when he elasticized the tempo, it was done for expressive purposes. He began with Ligeti’s Automne à Varsovie in a performance so intense he nearly fell off the piano bench at the end. [Read more…]