Ivan Davis says farewell with Schumann
Shelly Berg was the most prominent musician on the stage of Gusman Concert Hall Saturday night, as the third evening of Festival Miami showcased the energetic Frost School of Music dean collaborating with several faculty musicians.
As expected however the spotlight was stolen by the final artist to perform, pianist Ivan Davis, who is retiring after a remarkable 42 years of teaching at the University of Miami.
In a brief speech, Davis mentioned how much he had learned from all his students, those who had gone on to piano careers as well as those who had not. His greatest accomplishment, he hoped, was instilling in his students, “a sense of adventure and appreciation.”
Davis, 76, is retiring at the end of this school year but an even greater loss for the music world is that Saturday marked his farewell public appearance as pianist. Vision problems and arthritis have made it increasingly difficult for him to perform.
Davis’s rendering of Schumann’s Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) may not have been technically pristine but with the level of insight, subtle poetry and understanding Davis brought to these Schumann miniatures, no one could cavil. The relaxed fantasy, gentle musing and introspection were rendered with natural expression and simple eloquence, truly the art that conceals art. His refined encore of the favorite Scarlatti sonata with which he liked to begin his recitals, closed the circle neatly.
The rest of the concert followed the genre-crossing path established at last year’s inaugural Dean’s Concert with Berg teaming up with a variety of Frost faculty musicians in jazz and classical works. Incoming flute professor Trudy Kane joined Berg for a graceful reading of the Sonatine by Walter Gieseking, an artist known more as pianist than composer. The Miami Saxophone Quartet kicked up plenty of energy with their short but exuberant jazz set.
Berg and members of the Bergonzi String Quartet served up a lively if rough-and–ready performance of the Rondo finale of Brahms’ Piano Quartet in G minor. But the most impressive performance was Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsodie in which clarinetist Margaret Donaghue showed herself fully in synch with the music’s lyrical poise and relaxed virtuosity.
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Sun Oct 12, 2008
at 3:27 am