Myth and Monumentality

(click on any word in the title to go to the complete review on the Web)

November 3, 2007

...Rachmaninoffs Third Piano Concerto is somewhat less frequently programmed than his Second, but places even greater technical demands upon the pianist. More cohesive than its predecessor, it holds a number of critical solo passages for various orchestral players, moments that demand careful shaping. The composer, still unequalled as an advocate for his keyboard works (due in no small part to his exceedingly large hands), yielded in his later years to younger virtuosos such

as fellow Russian Vladimir Horowitz by declining to continue to perform his concerti.

Buzz had been strong around Appleton regarding the appearance of Russian-born pianist Dmitri Novgorodsky who now serves as Assistant Professor of Music at Lawrence University. The Odessa native had notable successes in his native country before emigrating to Israel where he was awarded an Extraordinary Pianist Grant. A full scholarship to Yale University brought him to the United States where he studied with Boris Berman (a very different kind of artist). In 1998, he was granted Extraordinary Abilities in the Arts US residency and, since then, has enjoyed a rich concert life here and

abroad. While a number of artists have made a mark upon this imposing piece and it would be foolish to describe any one

of them as entirely revelatory, this performance was very fine indeed. Mr. Novgorodsky has real virtuoso credentials, necessary in Rachmaninoffs Third as just getting the notes in place falls far short of requirements. More to the point, this artist has a lavish technique and plush tone, skirting any hint of pounding, and a sense of give and take especially

important in the episodic rise and fall, rise and fall of the final movement.

Novgorodsky began simply, tracing the straightforward first movement melody with the lyricism that contrasts effectively

with the complexities that soon arrive. The cascades of notes he released in the first movement cadenza showered the landscape with unforced brilliance while the filigree of the Intermezzo/Adagio was gracefully limned. In the marathon final movement, the pianist paced himself wisely, allowing the quiet interludes to emerge with unhurried expression before the next swelling of orchestral sound drew forth massive piano tone propelled with sweeping power. The contours thus respected, the movement proceeded with compelling inevitability to its resolute conclusion. The explosion of applause and cheers left no doubt about the audiences enthusiasm for an exciting venture in which Groner and his orchestra

participated with equal portions of sympathy and authority.

Excerpts from Northeast Wisconsin Music Review