Classical Music Guide - Sunday, July 16, 2017 - Written by Donald Isler

Jerome Rose

19th International Keyboard Institute and Festival at Hunter College
July 16, 2017

Beethoven: Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3
Schumann: Fantasiestücke, Op. 12
Liszt: Sonata in B Minor

Last night the 19th season of the International Keyboard Institute and Festival began with the traditional opening night recital by Founder Jerome Rose. A major contribution to musical life in New York the Festival provides two weeks of recitals by pianists at all different stages of their careers, lectures, master classes and a competition. Formerly located at the West 85th Street home of the Mannes College of Music (which has since moved downtown) the Festival is now in its third season at Hunter College.

Jerome Rose has had a long and distinguished career. Winner of the Gold Medal at the 1961 Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition he has concertized all over Europe and this country, meanwhile devoting much of his time to teaching at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and then at the Mannes College, where he has served on the faculty for close to 20 years. His teachers included Leonard Shure and Rudolph Serkin, whose attitudes towards artistry, and the score were serious, indeed. As he told me in a recent interview, working with them “was like reading the Torah; the score was sacred.Your job was to interpret the essence of this music; what it meant. Not to play the way you ‘feel.’”

Mr. Rose has a similar devotion to the music. If there was occasionally a bit of rushing and a few wrong notes, there was no question of his passion and dedication to the music. He never takes the easy way out, such as using slower tempi, but throws himself totally into his work. His love and his passion for the music are always obvious.

The tempi for the Beethoven Sonata were generally on the fast side, including the third movement, which is usually played somewhat slower, but it worked this way. Mr. Rose brought out the witty syncopation near the end of the second movement. The last movement, though a bit messy, was brisk, indeed, but effective.

In the Schumann Fantasiestücke, which followed the Beethoven, Des Abends had a lovely lilt, and sensitivity. The beginning of Grillen was gruff, but a later section had great charm. Fabel had a nice jocularity about it whereas Ende vom Lied was played with determination and passion, though the middle section was light and even “cute.”

As a pianist whose specialities include Liszt, the B Minor Sonata is a very important work for Jerome Rose. In the interview he described it as not a normal sonata but “a grand opera” and also “an autobiography of Liszt’s life.” Mr. Rose’s approach was heroic, and his performance full of drama and turbulence. There was great power and there were some impressive octave passages, as well as beautifully played quieter sections.

After the Liszt Sonata Mr. Rose thanked the audience for their attendance, and (in some cases) years of support of the Festival, welcomed them to the new season, and said he hoped to see them at many of the upcoming events.

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