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Concert Review: "Flute and Piano Magic" at Zimmerli Art Museum

November 18, 2014

Flu

 

On this past Sunday afternoon, November 9th, Pianist Yevgeny Morozov and Flautist Amy Tu delighted audiences in recital at the Zimmerli Art Museum on Rutgers’ College Avenue Campus. I arrived to the recital five minutes before the downbeat. The hall was a bustle, filled to capacity with an audience representing a wide range of ages. It’s always wonderful to see young people at concerts.


Mr. Morozov began the recital solo with Chopin’s Impromptu No. 1 in A-flat, op. 29. Chopin is very difficult to play. The sheer number of rapidly passing notes sound impressive when executed tastefully, but require very fine control to be done well. The writing is at once technical, virtuosic, and lyrical. A few shaky moments in the introduction were forgotten quickly. A confident recovery followed and Mr. Morosov dazzled us with shimmers of virtuosity. He is surely at home in front of the keyboard. His playing exudes confidence and passion.


The second piece on the program was Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 9 in D, K311. Mozart is a different beast from Chopin. Where Chopin’s writing is thick, Mozart’s is thin and lean. Although Chopin sounds more impressive to audiences because hands fly up and down the keyboard, Mozart’s music sounds simple--but deceptively so. Clean scales make quick turns up here and down there. Alberti bass figures progress in unpredictable patterns. But most importantly there are interpretive challenges because of the incredible variety in Mozart’s music; one moment sounds like a dolce tenor aria, the next a rapid orchestral tutti. There is a variety of articulation that limits use of the sustain pedal. The music, like opera, shifts dramatically from major to minor, light to heavy. Mozart’s music contains contrasting worlds of sound that demand thought in musical interpretation. And here was Mr. Morosov’s playing at its best. The Andante was sweet and expressive, so within the sound of the piano I could almost hear the crescendi of a string section, the musical line of an instrument that sings sustained and ever-varying tones. Bravo, Mr. Morozov.


Prokofiev’s Sonata for Flute, Op. 94, brought the lovely Amy Tu to stage with her golden Flute. Again, no shortcuts here. The music is virtuosic, and filled with unexpected modulations. If one thing was to be said about Ms Tu’s playing, it would be: gorgeous. She is one of the most expressive and sensitive wind players I have in recent memory. As I listened, following along with the score, what I heard was supremely better than what I saw on the page. Rough passage work was made to sound flowing, subtle, and musical. Her tone is even throughout all registers, and even high C’s sound delicate, transparent. The low register is thick and sultry.


And then the fireworks! The last numbers were classic show pieces: Borne’s Brilliant Fantasy on themes of Carmen, and Liszt’s ”La Campanella.” Here the audience was rapt with enthusiasm as all the stops came out for both players. The Liszt truly sounded as if Mr. Morozov had magically grown a third hand. A vocal melody in the center of the piano was enveloped with shimmering high notes and rumbling arpeggios in the bass. The Borne achieved the equivalent effects on the Flute. Head-spinning scales whirled up and down the Flute, but Ms. Tu seemed to be dispatching them with ease.


Applause was long an enthusiastic, and after the concert a long line of audience members waited to share their excitement with the performers. Enthusiasm, joy, call it what you will...to me the afternoon was one of ”Flute and Piano Magic”.

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