Miami Piano Festival serves up a concerto night with three soloists.

By Robert J. Carreras

Kemal Gekic performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 for the Miami International Piano Festival Sunday in Aventura.

Galloping horses thunder, gentle rains caress. That phrase epitomizes the piano’s expressive range, which was manifest in the music of Mendelssohn, Chopin, and Beethoven performed at the Miami International Piano Festival’s concerto program Sunday at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center.

Giselle Brodsky, MIPF artistic director, is to piano in South Florida as the late Judy Drucker was to vocal concerts. A trio of familiar soloists Sunday was accompanied by conductor Hobart Earle and the MIPF Orchestra.

Up first was Stephen Beus who delivered a deferential reading of Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The American pianist’s gentle touch was notable in the Andante, yet in the Presto finale he conveyed the agitato element yet managed to come off as somewhat mannered, with the most overworked pedal of the evening.

Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 was interpreted by Nikolay Khozyainov. The Russian artist has long been associated with this “poet of the piano” That affinity was clear in the singing quality he brought to the Larghetto. In the digital whirlwind that is the Allegro vivace finale, Khozyainov provided ample action and weight as well as the requisite elegance.

Florida International University artist-in-residence Kemal Gekic, stepped in for the scheduled Francesco Libetta who had visa problems, to perform Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto (No. 5).

The stalwart pianist exercised artistic dash and understanding in the opening movement. He had a warm handle on Beethoven’s dramatic squalls, with lightning of arpeggios, trills, and scales. Gekic scaled his power down to a leisurely gait in the Adagio. In the concluding Rondo, the soloist executed glissando passages and piano roulades in equally thunderous fashion. Dynamic shifts that are part of the cascading closing statements of this movement were dramatic and clear.

Under Hobart Earle’s direction, the playing of the MIPF Orchestra was accurate, prepared and sweeping.

Robert Carreras is an educator and classical music scholar. When he is not engaged in those, he flyfishes and attempts to do nothing.



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Mon Oct 24, 2022
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