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<<  -- 2 --  John Bell Young    PIANO MASTERPIECES


That's why Schumann's eloquent Blumenstuck, Debussy's puckish Minstrels, and Chopin's impassioned 'Funeral March' sonata emerge, as he plays them, as something significantly more than the sum of their parts. For this pianist, nuance is something to be taken seriously. Indeed, in his hands motivic gestures, which lend music its structure and integrity, are lovingly shaped and illuminated as they burgeon with cumulative intensity into a larger mosaic. No matter how quiescent or voluminous the material at hand, Wright eschews any aim to merely impress with his fabulous fingers, but remains a musical storyteller. In Haydn's C major sonata he navigates its florid rococo embroidery with the deft assurance of a Swiss jeweler, while lending to Rachmaninoff's blustery Etude Tableau in D the grandeur its imitative bell sonorities demand. The fanciful music of Sculthorpe, Fabregas and Liebermann will alienate no one, but, on the contrary, may win devotees to the best of 20th century music. The radiant sweep of Liebermann's Gargoyles tees off well against the atmospheric sonorities of Sculthorpe's Between Five Bells and Ms. Fabregas's charming Mirage.

The fact is, plainly stated, that Roger Wright is already a great pianist; there is no doubt about that. What remains at issue now is only the cold, pragmatic wind of reality, to whit: What will the public do to make sure that such an exceptionally rare talent, like a delicate flower, stays in blossom so as to be cultivated properly and as it should? That's a tough question in a world no longer interested in the the glamorous sheen that once made of Rubinstein, Horowitz, Cortot and even William Kapell household names. But it is also, it seems to me, our collective responsibility to make sure that a major find like Wright doesn't get lost in the woodwork, or worse, in academia.

Wright, who restores to piano playing the poetry it once extolled in the hands of another generation, impresses for his magisterial command, abundantly rich tone and intellectual savoir faire, but even more so for having stayed in touch with what really matters: making music with a heart. That alone explains why these performances are as compelling as they are touching.

Copyright © 10 March 2001 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA






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