Piano Pyrotechnics at Grace

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From music critic Lindsay Koob:

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Thursday’s Intermezzi III dished up a tasty program of piano

showpieces, courtesy of pianist-conductor Olivier Reboul. On the menu

were two splashy, knuckle-busting operatic transcriptions by Franz

Liszt that (along with many of his other works) set the standard for

romantic-era piano virtuosity. Reminiscences of Don Giovanni is built on three themes from this year’s (and last’s) Mozart opera, and the other is based on a waltz from Gounod’s Faust — his most famous operatic effort. Pianistic dignity and grace was restored with Maurice Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit, a piece that, in its own way, is just as difficult.

Reboul met most challenges admirably, wowing everybody with

pianistic leaps and bounds, sparkling runs, thundering octaves, and

finger-twisting filigree that drive ordinary pianists like me to

despair. He was at his best in the soft, but rapid pianissimo passages,

offering uncanny clarity and control, even when his fingers were a blur

to the eye. Sure, he missed a few notes — but you gotta wonder if even

Liszt himself ever got through these without some finger-slips. The

subtle colors and textures he achieved in the Ravel were intoxicating.

Please sir, we want some more. (We’ll next hear Reboul as conductor, in

Intermezzi VI)

LK

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