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Friday, March 31, 2023

Musical review: Four pianists showcase Bach’s versatility at a dinner concert at the Schubert Club

Musical Review: Four Pianists Showcase Bach'S Versatility At A Dinner Concert At The Schubert Club

Who said omicron has to take away all the fun? Saint Paul residents and visitors came to the Landmark Center for a free Bach piano concert presented by the Schubert Club during Thursday’s lunch break. Performed by four different pianists, Mark Mazullo, Tadeusz Majewski, Heather McLaughlin and Claudia Chen, the program included works from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, two sets of preludes and fugues in all 24 major and minor keys for keyboards, the first collection of which was published in 300 years ago, in 1722.

The group has performed together before, including a concert of Chopin’s music that was supposed to take place in 2020 but had to be postponed. When they met about this program, they came up with the idea of ​​playing Bach’s Preludes and Fugues in honor of the anniversary. They are planning another performance of Bach’s works at Macalester College at 3:00 pm on February 6 at 3:00 pm at the Mairs Concert Hall.

Thursday’s “Courtroom Concert” came after a thrilling set of studies by Philip Glass and dark plays by Johann Sebastian Bach earlier in the week. The Schubert Club invited Icelandic pianist Vikingur Olafsson to the Ordway Musical Theater and to Aria, an events center located in the old Theater de la Jeune Lune building in Minneapolis.

A friend and collaborator of Philip Glass, Olafsson is known for his inspirational interpretations. Speaking to an audience at the Aria on Tuesday night, he said he doesn’t always follow the score exactly, instead taking a more intuitive approach as he plays. Olafsson noted only one instance where Glass disagreed with his interpretation, stating that Olafsson played Etude No. 5 too quickly. In Aria, he played obsessively slowly, causing goosebumps.

In the middle of Thursday’s lunchtime concert at the Landmark Center, host Abby Betinis interviewed four musicians about what makes Bach’s playing so special. Claudia Chen said she considers Bach a life partner. She also noted that the way she plays Bach now is completely different from how she played when she was younger. “He’s evolving, and my interpretation is evolving too,” she said.

Chen’s subtle touch on the keys echoed through the courtyard of the Landmark Center as she began the program with Prelude and Fugue in C Major, Volume 2 (BWV 870). The “Courtroom Concert Series” usually takes place in Courtroom 317, but the courtyard lobby has more room for social distancing. It’s also a great place to sit under the building’s huge skylight and surrounded by its Romanesque Revival architecture.

Although they all performed pieces from the same music collection, the four pianists demonstrated how one interpretation can differ from another. Heather McLaughlin’s game showed incredibly dexterous fingers. For example, her performance of the Prelude and Fugue in B Flat Major, Volume 1 (BWV 867) was so fast that her heart was beating faster. Bach’s arpeggios flowed in a graceful gallop in her hands.

Mark Mazullo filled the music with meticulous precision, almost to the point of alarm. His interpretation of the Prelude and Fugue in G minor, book 2 (BWV 885) created an aura of tempo with a sharp staccato.

Meanwhile, Tadeusz Majewski noted the deep spiritualism of Bach in a conversation about the artist. His playing reflected this. His performance of the prelude and fugue in volume 2 in C (BWV 870) showed focused intensity, while when he played the prelude and fugue in volume 2 in E major (BWV 878), his playing reached a quiet delicacy.

The different ways each pianist brought Bach to life spoke of the versatility of the composer, who created inventive music “because he could,” as Mazullo said. “Bach had one of those minds that never stopped.”

World Nation News Desk
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