Classical Music Guide - Saturday, July 22, 2017 - Written by Donald Isler

Vladimir Rumyantsev

19th International Keyboard Institute and Festival at Hunter College
July 22nd, 2017

Scriabin: Prelude for the Left hand, Op. 9
Balakirev: Islamey – Oriental Fantasy, Op. 18
Scriabin: Nocturne for the Left Hand, Op. 9
Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit
Rachmaninoff: Five Preludes
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody in C-Sharp Minor, S. 244/2
with cadenza by Rachmaninoff

Vladimir Rumyantsev is a 30 year old Russian pianist who has studied at both the Moscow Conservatory and Mannes College. He has already won many competitions, and played in numerous important halls. He has a serious demeanor, and a no-nonsense, all-business approach to the instrument. And he’s quite a terrific pianist!

One could tell he breathes the lush romanticism of the Scriabin Prelude from the first note, and his playing of the other Scriabin work for left hand alone, the Nocturne, was equally impressive. He showed the patience to take plenty of time, and make it as gorgeous, and expressive as possible.

Islamey, which he played between the Scriabin pieces, had great zest, and there was wonderful clarity in the complicated figurations. By contrast, the middle section sounded expansive, and he later demonstrated a great understanding of pacing as he built up to a thrilling conclusion.

Mr. Rumyantsev’s Gaspard was excellent. In Ondine he again took his time, and reveled in the sensuousness of the piano’s sound. Le Gibet with those constant pulsing B-Flats surrounding the quiet drama of the work was never stagnant, as it is in some readings. In Scarbo, which starts with a sense of foreboding, he kept the audience emotionally off balance with the startling pauses, and mood shifts.

The first two Rachmaninoff Preludes were played a bit slower than one often hears them. However, the first, in D Minor, was played creatively, almost as a ballade, and the second in D Major, showed a loving attention to details. The G Minor had a strong opening section by contrast with the lush and beautiful middle section. The E-Flat Major was wonderful, with left hand comments on the right hand melody. The last of the group, the C Minor Prelude, was appropriately turbulent.

The Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 was played with elegance, swagger and imagination. The show-stopper, however, was the Rachmaninoff cadenza, which I had never heard before. We expect such things from Horowitz performances but this Rachmaninoff cadenza is, somehow, more shocking. One hears in it very much Rachmaninoff’s personality, as if he’s paying Liszt a visit. With glissandi, brilliant passage work, harmonies typical of the Russian composer, and one section where the mood is similar to that in his Polka de W.R. it was quite sensational!

Mr. Rumyantsev played one encore, something totally different from everything else on the program, but for its brilliance. It was Oscar Peterson’s arrangement of the blues song “Makin’ Whopee”, and boy, did he go to town with it!

Email:  |  Top of Page↑

The International Keyboard Institute & Festival is a publicly supported 501(c)(3) organization.
Any contribution will be greatly appreciated and is tax deductible to the full extent of the law.