Classical Music Guide Forums - Friday, July 30, 2010 - Written by Donald Isler

Recital by Students of Leonard Shure - IKIF

Today's activities at the Festival were devoted to the memory of the American pianist and pedagogue, Leonard Shure (1910-1995.) Earlier in the day a film of Mr. Shure giving a master class was played, there was a lecture about his life, and students discussed his legacy. The last program of the day was the recital by some of his finest students, which I attended.

Beth Levin's performance of the Beethoven Variations was not severe, but romantic in conception, dramatic and powerful, using a particularly wide range of dynamics. Her ability to sustain a line during the slow variations was especially impressive.

Victor Rosenbaum favored very slow tempi for the first and third of the Four Brahms Pieces, though the first one was quite beautiful and ethereal in nature. There was obvious thought behind everything he played.

Edward Arthur Shure, the youngest son of Leonard Shure, struggled a bit with the last movement of the Schumann Fantasy, but showed he knew his way around this work with his understanding of its drama, a sense of spontaneity to some sections that really made them sound fresh, and some nice touches such as setting up the introduction for an effective entrance of the first melody.

The Slavonic Dances of Dvorak, as played by Neal Stulberg and Phillip Moll, were delightful, full of charm and humor.

Some of the most interesting performances of the evening were of the 21st century compositions played just after the intermission. And if modern works were always played as well as this, just about everybody would like them!

David Del Tredici's playing of his tonal Gymnopedies was romantic, in turn beautiful, explosive and lyrical. He played with intensity, and the last piece, entitled My Loss, was particularly effective, with great masses of anguished sound.

Ursula Oppens' way with the Elliott Carter work (composed in his 100th year!) was terrific! The first piece had spatterings of fast notes that sounded like code. The slow, second piece was very beautiful and expressive. The third piece was fascinating, featuring, at times, what seemed like fragments of atonal melody with "comments" and ornamentation around it. Then she played the Mendelssohn Fantasy, and why not? It's all music, and there seemed nothing strange about segueing from one into the other. Indeed, it is all too rare that we hear most of Mendelssohn's piano works. (And some of the even less often played works than this one will be featured in Sontraud Speidel's Monday evening recital.)

Do you have any idea how hard it is to play at the end of a long concert (at 10:30!), at the end of a very long day?! One had to feel sympathy for Festival Founder Jerome Rose who, nonetheless, concluded the program by playing the Chopin A minor Waltz with warmth and charm, and then gave a deeply felt and poetic reading of the A Flat Ballade.

I think Leonard Shure would have been very proud of what we heard this evening!

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