Classical Music Guide - Monday, July 15, 2019 - Written by Donald Isler

Jerome Rose

Jerome Rose - IKIF
21st International Keyboard Institute and Festival
Merkin Hall
July 14th, 2019

Chopin: Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-Flat Major, Op. 61
Schumann: Kreisleriana, Op. 16
Brahms: Sonata No. 3 in F Minor, Op. 5

Pianist Jerome Rose founded the International Keyboard Institute and Festival in 1999 with his wife, Julie Kedersha, who is the Festival Director. It has been a significant cultural institution in the musical life of New York ever since, offering two weeks of master classes, at least two dozen concerts, and a competition. For many years it was in residence at the old, lamented home of Mannes College on the Upper West Side. In recent years it took place at Hunter College. This year most events are again at Hunter College, but some recitals, such as Mr. Rose's, take place at Merkin Hall. The artists who perform there range from brilliant young up and coming pianists, to musicians in the prime of their careers, to seasoned masters.

Jerome Rose, who traditionally gives the opening recital of the Festival, was the Gold Medal winner at the 1961 Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition and went on to a long and distinguished career as a pianist and pedagogue which continues with concerts, new recordings and master classes here and abroad. Now approaching his 81st birthday he still plays with strength and deep conviction. If there is occasionally some rushing and blurring there is also much beauty and artistry in his performances. And he never shrinks from playing big, demanding works.

The beginning of the Chopin Polonaise emphasized sensitivity and tonal beauty. The slow B Major section was played a bit faster than one sometimes hears it, but was effective. The conclusion was powerful.

Schumann's Kreisleriana had appropriately frenzied sections and calmer, slower ones. The third and fifth pieces were playful. The final piece was particularly fine, played with very good control, and with the emotions of the various parts effectively portrayed.

Mr. Rose did much of his finest playing in the second half, which consisted of Brahms' mammoth Third Sonata. There was much in it that reminded me of the wonderful Rubinstein interpretation of this work I heard so many years ago. (And, indeed, Mr. Rose was also hugely impressed by how Rubinstein played it, as he told me after the concert.)

The first movement was big, broad, powerful, and well, Brahmsian, in the best sense of the word. The second movement featured a thoughtful sounding middle section in D-Flat Major, and a beautifully played coda.

The rollicking and difficult to play third movement (I sometimes wonder if its theme isn't the most memorable thing in the whole sonata?!) was well-paced, and the contrasting trio section was very fine, indeed. The fourth movement was thoughtful and subdued but also dramatic. The beginning of the finale had daring, charm and spirit. The chorale section was spacious and wonderfully played. Mr. Rose brought the work to a powerful conclusion.

Jerome Rose played one encore, an eloquent and individual reading of the Chopin work from Op, 25 sometimes known as the "Cello Etude," because of its wonderful tenor melody. He then thanked everyone for coming to this first event of this year's Festival, and said he hoped to see everyone at many more of them.

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