Program Reviews by Valerie

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Peninsula Music Club

IMPRESSIONS OF A RUSSIAN AND A PIANO

 

Andrey Gugnin walks onto the stage almost hesitantly. A thoughtful man inviting Bach into the hall of St Luke’s Grammar School on a bright Sunday afternoon to a keen audience; barely acknowledging their applause. He seems unaware of their intense anticipation - the Adagio he is about to play already in his head and in his soul. His high-necked black jacket and features lead one to believe he hails from a land far away from Australia’s shining shores. A shy, slight man sharing Bach with intensity.

 

Schubert’s Sonata in D Major follows with its varied moods and Gugnin becomes animated and expressive as his long slender fingers stroke the keys. The charming sonata progresses and develops into a playful light-hearted syncopation at one point which reminds me strongly of Beethoven’s last piano sonata. I notice feet tapping and heads keeping time and have a strong urge to leap out after the concert to buy a c.d. of this particular piece of Schubertian magic.

 

Following the interval Shostakovich’s Piano Sonata No 1 - a relentless, galloping, and bombastic piece played with such brilliance and strength that I wonder if the piano will survive. Written when Shostakovich was young it has always received mixed opinions. I read this comment on the sonata: “Shostakovich loved to explore the horizons of new worlds of harmony. But "banging" demonizes his genius.” 

 

Leonid Desyatnikov’s “Reminiscences of the Theatre” (1985) depicts a small entertaining theatrical revue that transforms our soloist into a playful mood; rapid, light-fingered and fun. A catchy piece of seven movements.

 

Michael Kieran Harvey’s 48 Fugues for Frank Zappa No 6 brings a wry smile from Gugnin as he performs this powerful homage, written by one of Australia’s foremost interpreters of contemporary piano music.

 

Finally Stravinsky’s Trois Mouvements de Pétrouchka which is an arrangement for piano from the ballet of the same name, written for the pianist Arthur Rubinstein.  Pétrouchka is a story of a traditional Russian puppet that is made of straw and sawdust but who comes to life and develops emotions.  Played with spectacular brilliance by Gugnin these familiar and evocative melodies end this splendid recital that lasts – including the interval - almost two hours. He takes a solemn bow to the appreciative audience and I get the feeling he is unsurprisingly, quite exhausted.

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The Russian pianist, Andrey Gugnin won first prize in the Sydney International Piano Competition in 2016 and as part of his prize he is touring around Australia. Giving performances in country towns.

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Tonight’s audience numbered 180 and will no doubt be back for the next concert titled “Ensemble Aspherical” that takes place on Friday 3rd November at 8pm.. The venue for all the Peninsula Music Club concerts is the Hall at St. Luke’s Grammar School on the Bayview Campus.

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Valerie  copyright  Sydney May 2017 

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