<< -- 4 -- John Bell Young SUMMER PIANO IN THE BIG APPLE
If there was a single highlight to the festival, it was most certainly a stunning reading, by Mr Rose and dramatic tenor Jon Fredric West, of Schubert's haunting song cycle, Winterreise. To this august but dark work -- which concerns itself with presentiment and death -- Mr West and Mr Rose brought no end of ambrosial refinements, not only in their perfectly matched ensemble, but also through the abundance of details in which they took the trouble to invest. Neither is a slouch where articulation and the intelligible conveyance of compositional trajectory is concerned. In every song, no matter how brief or how extended, they consistently allowed the music to disclose its own inner logic and direction. In their interpretation, which favored the substantive over the florid, Mr Rose's deft nuance of every affective slur and dynamic paralleled Mr West's concern with the expressive power of plosive consonants and rounded vowels. Beyond that, theirs was a reading that invested itself in internecine musical meaning and the utter despair of the composer who gave voice to it. Judging by the voluminous reaction of a humbled audience, that message was lost on no one in attendance. To be sure, their performance has only one real rival: Hans Hotter's gripping account recorded in the 1940s.
John Fredric West sings 'Winterreise', with Jerome Rose at the piano. Photo © 2004 Eugenia Ames
Jerome Rose with the competition winners. Photo © 2004 Eugenia Ames
Mr Rose's tribute to young musicians did not go unfulfilled. Several standouts among them included the competition's first prize winner, Agnieszka Ufniarz, a young Polish pianist, whose suave performances were at once intimate and enthralling; the enormously charismatic Dudana Mazmanishvili, who puzzlingly took fourth prize, but whose playing, though big boned and wanting for repose, was commanding for its overall largesse; and Benjamin Warsaw, an Eastman Conservatory student and semi-finalist, whose pristine but spirited account of the Stravinsky Sonata easily won the public's admiration.