Classical Music Guide Forums - Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - Written by Donald Isler

Jerome Rose Recital - IKIF


Brahms – Rhapsody in E-Flat Major, Op. 119, No. 4
Schumann – Davidsbündlertänze, Op. 6
Schumann – Kreisleriana, Op. 16

The hot place to be this evening was at Jerome Rose’s piano recital at Mannes College, and not only because of the hall’s non-functioning air-conditioning system. Mr. Rose gave a powerful performance of music which no one who’s not a terrific pianist would even think to present.

Mr. Rose’s recital always opens the two week International Keyboard Institute and Festival at Mannes College, which he founded. With two recitals almost every day given by pianists at all different stages of their careers, masterclasses, and a competition, the Festival comes along in the second half of July, a traditionally “slow” time in New York for concerts, and fills it with a wide array of delights for those who love the piano, and the classical piano repertoire.

Also featured are special programs in memory of great pianists, and composers for the piano. At least one of these will be devoted this year to Claude Debussy, who was born 150 years ago, and another to Arthur Rubinstein, born 125 years ago. (Indeed, it is hard to believe that the two were only 25 years apart in age, as so many of us still have happy memories of hearing Rubinstein, whose career ended with his retirement in 1976 at age 89, whereas Debussy died in the last year of the First World War.)

Mr. Rose, a student of Adolph Baller, Leonard Shure and Rudolph Serkin, has been before the public for more than 50 years but still plays with great strength and passion. He never takes the easy way out by playing slowly or “carefully.” He gives “full-throttle” performances, yet plays with sensitivity and lyricism, and he never makes an ugly sound. And he certainly understands late German Romanticism.

The Brahms Rhapsody, with which he opened the program, was big and brooding, and even the awkward right hand runs in the middle section were impressively executed.

Of course, if one considers those runs challenging, how much more so is much of the Davidsbündlertänze?! Running at, minimally, half an hour in length, especially with the repeats (all of which I believe Mr. Rose observed) it’s a fantastical riot of extreme contrasts of emotion, and ferociously difficult to play. In addition, Schumann is frequently inconsiderate enough to put one almost impossibly fast and complicated movement right after another (ie. nos. 8 and 9, and nos. 15 and 16). Mr. Rose got through it in fine shape, not neglecting the slower movements, and made the return of the theme from the second piece, near the end, a touching moment.

If the Kreisleriana is, perhaps, a little more pianistically written, it is also a terrifically demanding, yet rewarding work. Mr. Rose tore into the first piece with abandon and rarely came up for air, yet, without neglecting the slower movements. (Actually, even his slow movements are never all that slow.) Some of the highlights of this performance, for this listener, included the beautiful way he floated the melody in the second half of the fourth piece, the firm rhythmic pulse in the C minor section (“Im Tempo”) of the sixth piece, the blistering pace at which he played the fugato section of the seventh piece, and his wonderful bringing out of the syncopated rhythms, and his powerful reading of the middle section of the last piece.

Mr. Rose is to be saluted for his performance this evening, as well as for his contribution to musical life in New York by creating this Festival.

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