Concert review by Joseph:
On Saturday 11th of February I went to a concert to see Roman Rudnytsky play a piano recital. He played
8 pieces, three by Franz Liszt, three by Claude Debussy and two by Isaac Albeniz. The Liszt songs played were the Two Legends and La Campanella. The Two legends are a pair of solo piano pieces inspired by the Saints: St Francis of Assisi and St Francis of Paola walking on waves. The pieces were very onomatopeic, the first one using high pitched, quick ostinatos to mimic the sound of birdsong, as St Francis of Assisi talked to his friends, the birds. The second piece used scalic yet sustained ideas, which brought to the mind a visual idea of waves rolling on a coast, as the scales “rolled” across the piano softly. La Campanella is part of a collection of pieces called the Six Paganini Etudes- inspired by the famous virtuoso violinist Nicolo Paganini. This piece in specific was from the Violin Concerto no. 2. Lac Campanella impacted me more, and thus I remember it more fondly than the Two Legends, I found the piece to be very well executed with a crisp and clear melody, played quickly without sacrificing detail in the overall tune. The large jumps in the melody, spanning up to a sixteenth, were done quickly and without hesitation, which leads me to believe that Rudnytsky is proficient and confident in the playing of the piece. Overall I really appreciated the complexity and difficulty of this fast-paced piece.
I enjoyed the Debussy pieces a lot more however. They were pieces from the Etudes, piano etudes
considered difficult to play, as Debussy himself described them as “a warning to pianists not to take up the musical profession unless they have remarkable hands”. In specific, the pieces performed were: “Pour le quartes”, Pour les arpeges composes” ad “pour les huit doigts”. These are pieces inspired by a specific feature of compositions, for example, “Pour le quartes” focuses on the interval of the fourth and is the primary idea of the entire piece, whereas “Pour les arpeges composes” focuses on the idea of arpeggiated chords as a stylistic feature of a piece. I really thought that “Pour les huit doigts” was a very impressive and memorable piece because of the idea of only using eight fingers to play, deliberately missing out the thumb, which seems incredibly hard to do and demonstrates a level of skill that was inspiring and humbling at the same time. My favourite piece was, however, “Pour les arpeges composes” as I really liked the soundscape that the piece created along the with the harmonies that flowed as the arpeggios were played.
The final two pieces played were by Isaac Albeniz, part of a suite of piano pieces called Iberia. The pieces in question are “Almeria” and “Triana”. Almeria in specific features the rhythm of the tarantas, a dance characteristic to the region of Almeria, which uses cantata libre, as such, it lacks any regular sense of pulse and rhythmic pattern. Due to this feature, the style can be sung or played, but not danced. It is also characterised by the Phrygian modality, which uses the major third of a scale as its tonal centre. This brings out the Spanish/Moorish culture of the region, and I enjoyed the mood that it set, which reminded me of those middle eastern scales that influenced flamenco music. Hemiola rhythms dominate this piece as well, but the mood is altogether different, and there is a strong suggestion of the siguiriyas, a gypsy song and dance. “Triana” was inspired by the Gypsy community that lived on the west bank of Guadalquivir River in the city of Seville in Spain, known as the district of Triana.‘Triana’ is also one of the cradles of flamenco. This piece resounds with all the clamor of a flamenco party, with the strumming of guitars, snapping of castanets, clapping, and percussive footwork. After the introduction, the principal theme evokes the sevillanas, a lively and lighthearted song and dance popular in Seville.
Overall, I really enjoyed this repertoire and found it to be impressive, instructive and inspiring. I thought that the small audience was addressed very informally and personally that I felt more engaged with the performer. Furthermore, the execution of the pieces was well done and any mistakes that may have happened were covered so well that I did not even notice them, if there were any to begin with.