Yefim Bronfman Sets the Keyboard on Fire in Orchestra Hall Performance | Chicago News

Yefim Bronfman is pictured in a provided publicity photo. (Credit: Frank Stewart)Yefim Bronfman is pictured in a offered publicity photograph. (Credit score: Frank Stewart)

Unusual as it might be, my first encounter with Yefim Bronfman, the powerhouse Soviet-born Israeli-American pianist who gave a knockout efficiency Sunday afternoon at Orchestra Corridor, was not in a live performance corridor in any respect.

Because it occurs, it was in a e-book — Philip Roth’s 2000 novel, “The Human Stain,” by which the author had his narrator describe a rehearsal on the Tanglewood Music Pageant.

To cite only a transient a part of his description of the expertise: “Then Bronfman seems. Bronfman the brontosaur! Mr. Fortissimo.” And he goes on to explain him as “the strongman who takes on the piano as a ridiculous problem to the gargantuan power he revels in. He doesn’t let that piano conceal a factor. No matter’s in there may be going to return out with its fingers within the air.”

I can not presumably match Roth’s description — solely applaud it. However the true applause belongs to Bronfman who started his program with galvanic renderings of Beethoven’s “Sonata No. 11 in B-Flat Main” and “Sonato No. 23 in F-Minor,” opened the second half with a captivating, and clearly immensely difficult modernist work by Galina Ustvolskaya (a Russian-born composer whose music was probably a delicate type of political riot), and closed with a wide ranging rendering of Chopin’s “Sonata No. 3 in B Minor.” Then within the wake of the viewers’s feverish ovations, he returned for encores with beautiful performances of Chopin’s “Nocturne in D-flat Main” and “Etude in C Minor.”

The mixture of pace and lightness Bronfman delivered to the opening of Beethoven’s “Sonata No. 11” (and Bronfman appears born to interpret Beethoven) immediately instructed the dynamic taking part in that was to observe all through the efficiency. Bronfman’s highly effective contact captured the fierce waterfall of notes that drove the good engine of Beethoven’s opening motion. However he additionally shifted ideally into the opening of the extra internalized second motion, together with his left hand supplying the perfect obbligato, and together with his good “diction” capturing the fragile fantastic thing about that part of the work. He then simply tapped into the extra playful, rippling high quality of the Menuetto motion, and the depth and fast temper shifts of the ultimate Rondo.

“Sonata No. 23” opens in a darkish temper, grows right into a tornado-like storm, retreats to calmer passages and assumes super grandeur. Bronfman rode its waves ideally. He then simply segued into the calmer, meditative, virtually dreamy second motion earlier than finessing the shift to a sense of chaos and fury with outstanding pace and depth within the finale.

For the demonically tough work by Ustvolskaya, a composer I had by no means heard of earlier than, Bronfman used what regarded like a well-worn, crazily difficult rating. Composed in 1957, this erratic, atonal, however intriguing piece is just not a piece a pianist can hum to himself, nevertheless it unquestionably units a temper. It opens with a dissonant, haunting, nervous sound that implies a warning of some lurking hazard. It conjures emotions of anger and rigidity — an agitated, dissonant, maybe paranoid mind-set stuffed with jangled chords. There’s a lot that may be learn into this transient however upending piece, and Bronfman imbued it with the sensation that the composer had a way of being watched, was dwelling in her head, but was intensely conscious of what was exterior.

After which got here the moment elixir of Chopin. Bronfman had the lid lifted off the piano at this level (little doubt for enhanced acoustic causes), and he proceeded to faucet into the rapturous circulation and sensual fantastic thing about the “Sonata No. 3” with all its romantic warmth and emotional depth.

His fingers moved by way of the Scherzo motion on the pace of sunshine — as if he had been suggesting a sort of musical lacework — after which ceded to the lyrical fantastic thing about the Largo motion with a melody acquainted to anybody who has ever taken ballet adagio courses. Subsequent got here the grand opening chords of the finale and one other show of Chopin’s ravishing melodic turns, without delay stuffed with urgency and energy, in addition to uncanny magnificence, depth and lyricism. After which it was a wild race to the tip (and the encores).

Bravo, Bronfman.

Observe Hedy Weiss on Twitter: @HedyWeissCritic

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