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Kadisha Onalbayeva, a Solo Piano Recital at Weill Hall

- Classical and Cultural Connections
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Kadisha Onalbayeva
Piano Recital

Weill Recital Hall
(Carnegie Hall Website)

Press & Artist Management: Miriam Overton

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 6, 2018

Amazing Grace, by William Walker (1809-1875), arr. by K. Onalbayeva.
Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 32, No. 2, “The Tempest”
by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).
“Sometimes a Mirror”, by Jerry Sieg (1943- ).
“Ligeti Light”, by Lawrence Moss (1927- ).
“The ’96 Etude”, by Michael Coleman (1955- ).
“Chaconne”, by Sofia Gubaidulina (1931- ).
“Think…Together”, by Kadisha Onalbayeva (1972- ).
“Dumka”, Op. 59 in C minor, by Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893).
“Mephisto Waltz No. 1”, by Franz Liszt (1811-1886).

Kadisha Onalbayeva, a Steinway Artist, from Kazakhstan, has been awarded many prizes in piano competitions and has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Louisiana State University. Currently, she is President of the Gulf Coast Steinway Society. Dr Onalbayeva is also Director of Piano Studies and Professor of Music in the Alabama School of the Arts at University of Mobile. Her recent, commissioned symphonic poem, “My Motherland”, received its debut in 2014 by the Kazakhstan National Orchestra. She is the subject of a documentary film about her life and musical career, commissioned by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan. (Carnegie Hall Program Notes). Tonight, it was an honor to be invited by the Republic of Kazakhstan and Kadisha Onalbayeva, Pianist, to Dr. Onalbayeva’s gorgeous concert at Weill Hall. I also had the pleasure of meeting the Consul General of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Zhanibek Abdrashov, after the recital. (See a 2015 review of the Astana Ballet Gala and an exhibition of Kazakh culture.)

Dr. Onalbayeva’s recital enraptured tonight’s packed Weill Hall with an eclectic mix of works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Liszt, as well as contemporary selections by colleagues, a 19th century introductory piece, a work by the pianist, herself, and one by Dr. Onalbayeva’s husband, Michael Coleman, who was also tonight’s photographer. The pianist’s arrangement of William Walker's Amazing Grace was sofltly performed like summer raindrops, with stylistic notes that echoed preceding phrases. The major work of the first half of the program was Beethoven’s Sonata No. 17 in D minor, called “The Tempest”. The “Largo-Allegro” first movement raced along the Steinway with vibrancy. At times, Dr. Onalbayeva expanded one note or chord for shifting tempi, masterfully, with lovely blended tones. The central “Adagio” evoked the quiet sensitivity of a lullaby, with engaging echoing tones. The final “Allegretto” had a familiar balletic theme, swirling waltzlike. This movement was rapturous and yearning. Lively, crisp notes fluidly evolved. The pianist was at all times poised and composed, quite at home on this stage.

Jerry Sieg was in the audience for the Carnegie Hall debut of “Sometimes a Mirror”, and the audience at Weill was quite enthused. The atonal, bustling, quasi-traffic tonality of this music’s urban motif was infused with staccato notes, deliberately sharp. Lawrence Moss’ “Ligeti Light” was also contemporary and dissonant. Heavy chords ensued, and the pianist slapped the side of the Steinway for hand percussion. Dr. Onalbayeva also used xylophone mallets on the piano’s interior strings. Mr. Coleman’s “The ’96 Etude” had a gorgeous, imploding theme, like a melodic hurricane, with roaring wind and waves of melody. After intermission, Sofia Gubaidulina’s “Chaconne”, once again atonal, had playful, treble waterfalls of dancing phrases. The pianist’s own composition, “Think…Together”, was imbued with folkloric elements, yet modern in motif. The voluminous, dramatic passages were followed by whispering high tones, for rhythmic and tonal contrasts.

The Tchaikovsky “Dumka”, Op. 59 in C minor, was a welcome melodic shift, rhapsodic and evocative of Russian tunes. Dr. Onalbayeva performed this work, like all the others, with astute sophistication and seasoned nuances in tone and tempo. She maximizes the intricate fascination of each work with obvious familiarity and proficiency. This is a challenging piece, and the pianist made it sing. The pianist tore into Liszt’s “Mephisto Waltz No. 1” with expertise and electricity. The musical image was a forestial chase, followed by sumptuous evocations of sorrow, longing, romance, and elegance. Kudos to Kadisha Onalbayeva.

Kadisha Onalbayeva at Weill Hall
Courtesy of Michael Coleman

Kadisha Onalbayeva at Weill Hall
Courtesy of Michael Coleman

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at