I went to see Radu Lupu’s recital at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday night. The last time I saw him in concert was ten years ago at Chicago’s Sara Lee Piano Series and to this day, I still think of that concert in 2001 as probably the most influential solo piano recital I have seen. Having gone through many of my own musical (and personal) changes, I was curious to know how I would receive him in concert ten years later.
He performed Leos Janacek’s In the Mist as well as Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata and ending with the Schubert Bb Sonata. I had spent about $60 to be on the dress circle in Stern Auditorium and I generally had trouble hearing being three levels above ground. (Not to mention that the NYC audience never seem to figure out how to turn off their cell phones, which was a major distraction!) I really wondered whether solo piano recitals were really fit to be listened to in an auditorium that seats 2800 people. I also wondered whether I have gotten use to the controlled amplified musical venues that I frequent which made me feel that I was struggling to really hear him.
Regardless, I still felt that Radu Lupu played with such inflection and beauty. The most beautiful musical moment was his encore, when he played Brahms Intermezzo Op.118 No.3 . This piece has such a significant place in many pianists hearts as a a “turning point” piece. I still remember when I first discovered this intermezzo and feeling that a whole other world of musical possibilities were opening up to me. After speaking to many of my fellow pianists, it seems that many of us hold these kinds of sentiments with this piece. I certainly have heard many renditions, taught it many times and played it myself in concert, but I know that I will never hear that intermezzo played as beautifully as I did last Tuesday. Thanks to this concert, I was able to remember many of our truest intentions and desires to play the piano when we were younger. At a time when the classical piano world is changing so much, it was great to hear a pianist perform with such honesty.