Friday, May 18, 2018

Raphael Alexandre Lustchevsky

I was recently asked to write a review for a local paper, but due to some muddle, the review didn't reach the right person on the staff in time. It looks as though it's not going to appear at all. So I'm including it here on the blog, for anyone who's interested. Due to the paper's restrictions, the review has to be no more than 300 words. 


Review of Raphael Alexandre Lustchevsky’s concert at Marama Hall, 10th May, 2018


The Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland and the Polish Embassy sponsored a concert by the distinguished pianist, Raphael Alexandre Lustchevsky, at Marama Hall last night.

Lustchevsky is presumably used to much larger venues, yet there was no stinting on his performance. He maintained a high level of energy throughout, with thunderous octaves in both hands contrasting with delicate runs and deeply-felt melodies.

His programme was never lightweight. The Chopin and Liszt pieces he played in the first half have huge requirements for the pianist.

Courtesy of Sabah Songs blog
Among these, in the two transcriptions of Schumann songs by Liszt, we have one (Frühlingsnacht) that is more Liszt than Schumann, while the other (Widmung) allows Schumann’s glorious voice to sing through. Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No 2, full of fire and passion, ended the first half.

Though the two Paderewski ‘miniatures’ in the second half were less strenuous, the two dances by de Falla, and the exhausting original piano version of Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin are full scale works.

Lustchevsky endeared himself to the audience throughout by introducing each piece in a warm and down-to-earth style, in clearly enunciated English. He reminded us before playing Chopin’s Scherzo in C sharp minor that though the word scherzo means a joke in Italian, this piece is ‘definitely not a joke.’

Several pieces in the concert were a tribute to his fellow-countryman Paderewski who had played them in New Zealand on his 1904 tour. Lustchevsky informed us that after the tour Paderewski left his Bechstein piano on Waiheke Island, where it now resides in Whittaker’s Music Museum.

Two encores ended the concert: Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu, with its central tune made famous as I’m always chasing rainbows, and a lyrical Nocturne by Paderewski.

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