Trpčeski to tackle intensely demanding program of Schubert and Liszt
Simon Trpčeski enjoys an adventure.
“I like to explore, most of all,” says the acclaimed Macedonian pianist, who performs Saturday evening at Gusman Concert Hall, as part of the Sunday Afternoons of Music series. “I’ve always been taught to find myself in any piece of music, no matter what I play. I’ve combined some pieces that I haven’t had much chance to perform, and thought I could show off different periods of creativity.”
The pianist was speaking on the phone from the West Coast, just minutes before he was to take the stage for the last of four performances of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with the San Francisco Symphony under Edo de Waart, “I’m glad I’ll have four days off to get ready for the recital,” he said. “I hope it is an audience pleaser. It shows Liszt with great diversity, and shows how good Schubert was at improvising for the piano, and at making pearls out of almost any musical form.”
Trpčeski’s program—Liszt in the first half, Schubert after intermission—may not seem that adventurous, but closer scrutiny reveals what he’s hinting at. His choices for Liszt show not only Liszt the virtuoso, but Liszt the Bach scholar, Liszt the Romantic, and Liszt the folklorist.
Trpčeski’s Liszt selections include the Prelude and Fugue in A Minor (his transcription of Bach’s BMV 543), Les jeux d’eaux, the Petrarch Sonnet No. 104 from Années de Pèlerinage, and the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.
“Playing Bach is always an examination for any pianist, any artist,” he says. “Liszt did not make any major alterations from the original. He respected Bach, and was just trying to transfer the power of the organ to the power of the piano. I have not played in the hall yet, but I hope I can transfer that feeling there myself.
“The two pieces from Années describe momentary inspirations for Liszt: meeting people, reading poems, being in nature. Jeux d’eaux especially is more impressionistic in direction, with many different registers. The piece always reminds me of Debussy. I love nature myself, and more importantly I’m always fascinated how artists can put the natural world into music. It’s never easy to bring out that feeling.”
Trpčeski will also serve up the celebrated showpiece Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2
“Thanks to Hanna Barbera, the second Rhapsody is more popular than it should be,” he says. “I call it the ‘Tom and Jerry rhapsody’ (referring to the famous cartoon that brought the piece widespread attention). “But there is much more to the work than just showing off—it depends on the artist. If one pays attention to all the marks, especially the pedaling, then you can appreciate its value.”
Trpčeski’s Schubert repertoire choices are more personal. Now, 32, Trpčeski learned the Wanderer Fantasy at age 15, and is revisiting it Saturday for the first time in public since then. He’s also playing the rarely heard German Dances, D. 783: “I heard a Brendel recording, and I was really impressed, so I gave it to one of my students, and we had a chance to get into them deeper.
“Coming from Macedonia, we love to sing and dance, and we’re very much into folk music,” he says. “I sing and dance myself,” he says, “we all do in Macedonia! We’re very much into folk music. Schubert’s dances are German, but they have that feeling of how people really dance. Some are lively, some are melancholy and so on, but they all certainly give me pleasure, and I will try to convey that.”
Saturday’s concert will mark Trpčeski’s first performance of the knuckle-busting Wanderer Fantasy in 17 years. “The Wanderer was part of my life when I was fifteen,” he says. “To me, it’s like a small symphony. The technical challenges are in the third and fourth movements, but what’s really incredible are the variations in the second movement. He brings you from one end of the world to the other. It’s honesty: he wanted to show us his capabilities. He was probably was not the easiest personality to get along with, but he tells us a lot about his soul.”
Simon Trpčeski performs music of Liszt and Schubert 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Gusman Concert Hall. 305-271-7150; sundaymusicals.org.
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Thu Feb 23, 2012
at 12:53 pm