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April 5, 2010

Gilmore Young Artist Award-winner Ivan Moshchuk gives dynamic Baltimore recital

It takes a certain amount of nerve -- or maybe just youth, as an audience member suggested to me -- for a pianist to program as hefty a program as the one 19-year-old Ivan Moshchuk delivered Saturday afternoon at An die Musik.

On the first half: the Bach/Busoni Chaconne and Beethoven's "Appassionata." On the second: a set of Scriabin Preludes and Rachmaninoff's Sonata No. 2. That's a lot of finger-busting for one afternoon, but Moshchuk sounded like he could have added a few much such challenges without breaking a sweat; this was a very impressive demonstration of talent and potential.

Moshchuk, who studies with Boris Slutsky at Peabody, recently was named one of two recipients of the 2010 Gilmore Young Artist Award, which includes a $15,000 grant and a commission for a new work. Like the Gilmore Award, which carries a $300,000 prize and is given to an established pianist, this nod to young artists is non-competitive; candidates typically have no idea they are under consideration. The Gilmore brand has become quite prestigious over the past two decades. It was easy on Saturday to hear what evaluators must have found so appealing about this particularly pianist.

The Moscow-born Moshchuk, who was raised in Michigan, has a pronounced virtuoso streak -- there were times when it seemed like he couldn't wait to get to the next bravura passage. Like many pianists, he took the finale of the "Appassionata" at such a good clip from the get-go that there wasn't much room for contrast at the home stretch. Still, he put across the bold, bracing quality of the score very effectively. During the wildest dashes of the Beethoven score and the thunderous outer movements of the Rachmaninoff, note-counters could have tallied a few misses, but that hardly mattered in light of so much absorbing, dynamic music-making.

Moshchuk had something meaningful to say throughout the recital. When, for example,

he reached the major key section of the Chaconne, he sculpted the phrases with a deal of expressive warmth. The second movement of the Rachmaninoff sonata was likewise delivered eloquently, as was, to an even greater degree, the encore from Rachmaninoff's Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39 (the darkly poetic No. 2 in A minor).

When all was played and done, I wouldn't have minded more contrasting repertoire on the program, but it was impossible not to be impressed with Moshchuk's handling of the material. I look forward to hearing him again.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of clips from other performances by the pianist that easily reveal what the fuss is all about:

PHOTO COURTESY OF GILMORE INTERNATIONAL KEYBOARD FESTIVAL 

Posted by Tim Smith at 12:51 PM | | Comments (2)
        

Comments

That's about the nicest, cheeriest picture of a Muscovite pianist I've ever seen. (Of course, growing up here in the States tends to help wipe the iron-grey furrows from the forehead -- at least as far as the promotional agencies are concerned.) He looks like he just stepped out from one of the nicer post-adolescent dramas on TV...

He sounds like a real winner. I'd love to hear him perform some Chopin, Medtner, and/or Shostakovich (not to mention Roslavets). The programme from An Die Musik definitely reflected your typical "Russian Piano School" recital, right down to the Bach/Busoni. ;^)

Great to hear new talent coming up through the ranks. I wish I could have heard him in person. The Scriabin recording sounds so muddy. He definitely has strong fingers! Sounds like he has great potential.

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at baltimoresun.com/artsmash. This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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