IKIF (Monday)

July 20, 2009

Monday the Prestige Series began — that’s the six o’clock recital featuring younger, emerging pianists. First up was Mei-Ting Sun. He was enjoyable and very amazing. He uses his tremendous technical powers very well. Sun played the Op. 10 Chopin Etudes as a single piece. Where other pianists need a ‘pit stop’ to recover after each one, the Etudes seem relatively easy for Sun, so his brief pauses are more well-timed musical silences. His timing is keen, which made for a different experience of Op. 10. Sun’s second half was all opera transcriptions. He told us the story of Salome, the ultimate “Fatal Attraction” psychotic nightmare lover of John The Baptist.

Mr. Dubal was full of surprises in his Master Series Lecture on the three anniversaries of Haydn, Mendelssohn & Albeniz. Noting that Beethoven’s widespread contemporary recognition is a relatively recent result of a huge effort to promote the composer, Dubal says we need some Haydn ‘evangelism’ too. Dubal half-joked that Haydn’s reputation (great, but secondary to Mozart and Beethoven) suffers unfairly because Haydn was just a normal person: “he didn’t commit suicide, he wasn’t schizophrenic, he didn’t have 20 kids by 10 different women.” Dubal thinks the same re Mendelssohn, that we’re biased against artists who are happy and normal, not half-mad or tragic.

Dubal mentioned that Napoleon was fond of Haydn. I was surprised to hear Boneparte loved music: it raises the question what personal impact the condemnation by Beethoven in the Eroica Symphony had on him? I have to ask Mr. Dubal about that.

Dubal talked about Mendelssohn’s drawings, not measuring up to his music. But at his spring lecture at the Met, Dubal mentioned a relationship between the drawings and the music. I’d like to hear a lot more detail on that, since Mr. Dubal also works in both media (drawing and music).

Three pianists played. My friends Jonni and Tom both said Ilya Yakushev turned them into Haydn lovers. Jung Lin played Variations Serieuses, which I’d have never guessed was Mendelssohn. I want a recording of the piece. And the very excellent music photographer Peter Schaaf played Albeniz.

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