Mitsuko Uchida at Carnegie Hall

ImageGen.ashxCarnegie Hall presents a number of different programs centered around a particular artist. Tonight’s “Meet the Artist” was a piano presentation by the internationally renowned Mitsuko Uchida.

Just one piano and a bench on the stage stood between us and an exhilarating evening of virtuosity by this incredibly gifted woman. Her power, shadings, gentility and force came through, as if the composer himself were standing behind the lifted lid of the instrument breathing life into every note.

The Mozart Sonata in C Major, K. 545 was a charming start; Schumann’s Kreisleriana, Op 16 both moving and lively with playful moments at the end; and again (she is particularly drawn to Schumann) Schumann’s Fantasy in C Major, Op. 17 was the pièce de résistance. She transported us with passionate, energetic and then slow but lyrical passages, so emotional that it literally brought me to tears. Somehow much of the music of the 18th and 19th centuries resounds to the rhythms of the body: our breathing, our heartbeat, our very being.

Mitsuko Uchida tried her best to do honor and justice to one contemporary piece by Jörg Widmann: Sonatina facile (commissioned by Carnegie Hall), by putting on her glasses and playing the actual sheet music, the pages of which were turned by a charming young assistant. I truly do understand the need for this “new” music, and this is qualified by every measure. But somehow, much of it has the opposite effect of the classical, by clashing with those rhythms, keeping one on edge, surprising the listener with atonal assaults.

I’m not saying it’s not worthy, it’s just well… different! Think Star Wars!

Barbara Tober

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