Pianist and Composer
Solo Piano Recital
Works by Bach, Piazzolla, Gershwin, Gurvitch
Weill Recital Hall
(Carnegie Hall Website)
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 18, 2017
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" (arr. By L. Gurvitch).
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992): "Milonga del angel", "La muerte del angel", "Oblivion".
George Gershwin (1898-1937): "I Got Rhythm".
Leon Gurvitch (b. 1979): "Symphonic Preludes" (World Premiere), "Hommage a Stravinsky", "Remember Me", "The Prayer", "Fiesta", "Megapolis", "Poetic Whispers", "Variations on a Theme by Paganini".
A warm and vibrant pianist, Leon Gurvitch, from Minsk Belarus, arrived at Weill Hall for his Carnegie Hall debut and made many new friends and fans in the process. Mr. Gurvitch graduated as a conductor from the Belarussian Music Academy and pursued further music studies in Hamburg, Germany, where he has been teaching at the Johannes Brahms Conservatory. This youthful artist educates the audience about each piece just before or after it's presented. As a result, he quickly drew the packed Hall tightly into tonight's elegant and eclectic musical aura.
The opening work by Bach included pregnant pauses, gestural flourishes, and a dramatic, energized finale. An excerpt from Mr. Gurvitch's world premiere, "Symphonic Preludes" was next, with vivacious momentum, at times evoking thoughts of Gershwin, whose music would close out the program. Repetitive harmonies had a mesmerizing pulse. His "Hommage a Stravinsky" brought the ballet "Petrouchka" to mind. Staccato dissonance was fused into the theme to transport the listener to the days of the Ballets Russes. In Mr. Gurvitch's "Remember Me", a poignant, melodic piece in contrast to the previous one, I heard filmatic qualities of a sweeping emotional journey. A composition dedicated to Mr. Gurvitch's grandfather, a Holocaust victim, called "The Prayer", infused Klezmer tones and melancholia, of yearning and loss. He held the final note endlessly, encased in silence. Brightening the mood was Mr. Gurvitch's "Fiesta", played to enhance its Flamenco flair and percussive rhythms. Musical imagery evoked long, swirling ruffles and stomping heels.
Two works by one of my favorite composers, Astor Piazzolla, followed, "Milonga del angel" and "La muerte del angel". The music was performed in tango theatrics, not tango dance rhythm, in charged, possessed fervor. I have heard and written about these Piazzolla works for many years, but they took on a different level of dynamism tonight. Mr. Gurvitch switched back to his own compositions, introducing "Megapolis". With hints of horns, taxis, and foot traffic, Gershwin's An American in Paris came to mind, but with New York jazzy blues. As in his "Symphonic Preludes", played earlier in the recital, deep, repetitive chords pulsated throughout the music. "Poetic Whispers" returned us to a melancholy mood, subdued and introspective with lush harmonies. Then, Mr. Gurvitch's "Variations on a Theme by Paganini", so different from previous Paganini "variations" from Brahms and Rachmaninov, was entertaining and playful, with each variation following the theme in rapturous, campy, or balletic styling.
Piazzolla's "Oblivion", his most exquisite composition, exudes longing and sorrow. It was performed tonight with reverence and mastery, in quintessential, heartrending eloquence. Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm" evoked swing dance halls and big band brash. Encores included Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo a la Turk" and Piazzolla's renowned "Libertango". Kudos to Leon Gurvitch, who has a bright future on international concert stages, as pianist and as composer. Many of his new fans and friends gathered to greet him following the Weill event.
Courtesy of L. Gurvitch