Friday, April 29, 2016

Brazilian pianist ARNALDO COHEN replaces Behzod Abduraimov for May 7 recital

Yesterday, news came proving once again an eternal truth of the live-music business -- "Programs and Artists Subject to Change."  Unfortunately, due to a physical ailment, pianist Behzod Abduraimov is unable to give his scheduled debut recital at Clayton State University’s Spivey Hall on Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 7:30 PM.  He sincerely regrets this cancellation (as do we), but he cannot get better unless he takes a break from playing, as his doctors recommend.  While I'm very sad not to hear him, I'm entirely sympathetic to his situation and hope he'll be feeling better soon.

So...after a busy day on the phone and at the computer, I'm proud to announce that we are indeed fortunate to welcome the return of Brazilian-born pianist ARNALDO COHEN, first-prize winner of the 1972 Busoni International Piano Competition. Described as “a fabulous talent” (San Francisco Chronicle),  Arnaldo Cohen is “a big pianist, a large man with a roaring, muscular tone, digital precision and individual interpretations. He is debonair at the keyboard, and he is wise” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). 

A pupil in his native Brazil of Jacques Klein (a disciple of the legendary American pianist William Kapell), Cohen pursued further training in Vienna. Long in demand internationally, he has performed with the Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras, the Chicago Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and is a frequent recitalist at major music venues and festivals, including the 2016 Savannah Music Festival.  An acclaimed recording artist, Cohen was a professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London before moving to the United States, where he currently holds a full professorship at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, and since 2013, has been artistic director of the Portland Piano International series in Oregon.

For his May 7 Spivey Hall recital, Arnaldo Cohen will perform Ferruccio Busoni’s transcription of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Chaconne in D minor, the Variations on a Theme of Handel by Johannes Brahms, and the four highly virtuosic Scherzos by Frédéric Chopin.

This should be a fitting and exciting finale our Season 25 Piano Series. I've greatly enjoyed Arnaldo's concerts and CDs and last heard him live some years ago in recital in Santa Barbara.  Several Spivey Hall patrons told me of his recent recital at the 2016 Savannah Music Festival in March, where he got a a rave review:

"Performing a program of works by Bach, Brahms and Chopin in the austere and acoustically splendid Trinity United Methodist Church, Cohen’s performance was a masterful display of virtuosic technique, astounding power and insightful interpretation. A series of four scherzos by Chopin, which ended the program, was especially evocative, roiling with deep dynamics and searing intensity, yet punctuated by nuanced, restful beauty. It’s hard to imagine the composer’s work being in better hands."

So if you already have your Abduraimov tickets, you're all set to hear Arnaldo Cohen. Good seats are still available from the Spivey Hall Box Office by calling (678) 466-4200 and online at  Students with valid ID and educators receive a 50% discount, and Clayton State University students receive $10 tickets (limit 2 per Laker ID). Tickets to the 5:45 PM pre-concert dinner ($40 per person) are also available, and must be purchased by 12:00 Noon on Monday, May 2. And of course, there is always plenty of free, convenient parking for all Spivey Hall concerts.

Dr. Michael Koch, one of Spivey Hall's most ardent, knowledgeable and enthusiastic pianophiles, remains the Spivey Hall Friends Concert Sponsor of our May 7 piano recital, for which I thank him warmly. I also wish to extend to him my profound thanks for his extraordinary generosity in allowing his beautiful Hamburg Steinway concert grand piano ("Hans") to come visit his cousin "Clara" (Spivey Hall's beautiful Hamburg Steinway) this season. 

In many respects, "Clara" and "Hans" share marvelous qualities. Yet each piano has its own unique character, and since no one piano suits the needs and preferences of all pianists, the world's best concert halls offer their pianists a choice of excellent pianos.  

There are many reasons why discerning pianists will choose a particular piano over another, reasons that vary considerably among pianists -- not infrequently (but not always) because of their chosen programs (more on this in a future blog post).  To some listeners, the pianos' differences might not be readily apparent -- but to the pianists who are bringing the music to life, they can matter in untold ways.

By providing first-class pianos that offer meaningful and valuable differences of touch, tone, and essential character to world-class pianists, leading professional concert venues such as Spivey Hall can assist these extraordinary artists to play at their best. When this is possible, the music can be especially well served, and we who listen in the audience are very richly rewarded.  

Thus at Spivey Hall, we truly wish to have a pair of first-rate pianos, worthy of our superb acoustics and visiting guest artists, that complement each other, appeal strongly to pianists, and satisfy their various musical needs and preferences. We are delighted and thankful to have one such a piano in "Clara." But "Clara" needs a partner as wonderful as she is. Having conferred with a number of Spivey Hall Friends, I believe the time has come for us to start thinking about finding "Robert." We expect to have an announcement about this in the coming months, so stay tuned!

One last observation: Arnaldo Cohen will begin his recital with the Busoni transcription of Bach's Chaconne in D minor.  Pianist Inon Barnatan will open Season 26 with the Chaconne in D minor, but in Brahms's transcription for the left hand alone. Both are astonishing realizations of Bach's genius, and together I think they make a nice set of musical bookends between seasons.