The New York Times - Friday, July 23, 2010 - Written by Vivien Schweitzer

The Left Hand’s Chance at the Right Hand’s Spotlight

It’s not unusual that the most poignant and intimate moments in solo recitals come in the encores, when the artist is fully warmed up, any nerves have dissipated and a comfortable rapport has been established with the audience. Performers often feel free to choose simpler, less showy pieces after demonstrating their technique during strenuous programs.

The three encores performed by the Spanish pianist Joaquín Achúcarro on Wednesday evening at Mannes College the New School for Music were the highlight of his recital, part of the Masters Series in the annual International Keyboard Institute & Festival, a magnet for piano buffs that features recitals by veteran and emerging musicians, lectures and master classes.

Mr. Achúcarro began his encores with Scriabin’s Nocturne for the Left Hand after telling the audience that his right hand would go on strike if not given a rest. Next came a dreamily evocative rendition of Debussy’s “Claire de Lune” and a poetic, introspective performance of Chopin’s Nocturne in E flat (Op. 9, No. 2)...

Recitals in the Masters Series follow Prestige Series events, which feature emerging artists. On Wednesday the young Chinese pianist Jue Wang, the recipient of numerous competition prizes, began his recital with elegantly conceived performances of Ravel’s Sonatina and Miroirs. But it was in the second half, playing Liszt, that Mr. Wang really shone. In the Transcendental Études No. 9 “Ricordanza” and No. 10 in F minor he coaxed an impressive range of colors from the instrument with virtuosic and expressive ease.

Liszt’s “Bénédiction de Dieu Dans la Solitude” received a similarly impressive interpretation, the magisterial melodies unfolding with serene grace.

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