Classical Music Guide Forum - Sunday, July 17, 2011 - Written by Donald Isler

Jerome Rose Recital - IKIF

Brahms: Rhapsodies, Op. 79
Brahms: Sonata No. 3 in F Minor, Op. 5
Brahms: Fantasy Pieces, Op. 116

Toscanini's statement "Tradition is the last bad performance" notwithstanding there are some very GOOD traditions in the musical life of New York, and one of the finest is the International Keyboard Institute and Festival, which started its annual extensive series of programs all about the piano for the 13th time this evening. During the next two weeks those who come to Mannes College will be able to hear two recitals every day, performed by accomplished artists at all different stages of their careers, master classes and a piano competition. The audience consists of students, seniors and everything in-between. People greet fellow listeners they have met in previous years, and the audience includes some very distinguished musicians, including well-known teachers and critics.

One of the traditions of the Festival is that it opens with a piano recital by its founder, Jerome Rose. Last year he played an all-Schubert program and this time he gave us an evening of Brahms. The program notes indicate that Mr. Rose won the Concert Artists Guild award as well as a Fulbright to study in Vienna in 1961, but he is still full of strength and can make a tremendous sound at the instrument.

The Rhapsodies and the first movement of the Sonata were full of drama and passion. But when he got to the first D Flat major section in the second movement he really got into his "groove" or, rather, Brahms's. This was truly eloquent playing, and Mr. Rose had the rapt attention of his audience from then on.

He caught the rambunctiousness of the third movement Scherzo very effectively and played the chorale theme in the Trio with great feeling. There was suspense in his playing of the fourth movement, and one could imagine a premonition of impressionism in the way he handled the "floating" G flat dominant ninth chords. The last movement had plenty of excitement and dash; Mr. Rose never takes the easy way out, tempo-wise, in fast movements.

After the intermission, Mr. Rose played all of the Fantasy Pieces of Op. 116. Again, he highlighted the contrasts between the fast and slow pieces effectively. The A minor Intermezzo was particularly lovely. But for this listener the most impressive performance in this group was of the enigmatic E minor Intermezzo. Here, his playing was hushed, and revelatory.

Mr. Rose concluded with one encore, the Consolation No. 3 of Liszt, in honor of the Liszt Bicentennial. It was absolutely beautiful!

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