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A musical treasure

Polina Osetinskaya displays
fiery command in Beethoven and Liszt,
appreciated by LAWRENCE BUDMEN


The superb young Russian pianist Polina Osetinskaya displayed astounding virtuosity and sensitive musicality several seasons ago in a program of unusual works by Scriabin and Desyatnikov. This extraordinarily gifted artist returned to Miami in an awesome display of keyboard technique and interpretive agility on 31 August 2005 at the Steinway Concert Hall in Coral Gables, Florida, USA.

Ms Osetinskaya projected serene authority from the very opening bars of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No 31 in A flat major, Op 110. The opening movement proceeded with unforced inevitability as if the pianist were rewriting the score in a musical stream of consciousness. This was big boned, commanding Beethoven. The demonic power of the Scherzo was dispatched with fierce power and high voltage drama. The peaceful serenity of the slow movement was truly sublime. Ms Osetinskaya's ability to play softly was astonishing -- particularly in Steinway's acoustically live venue. Her playing was the essence of beauty and mature artistry. The concluding double fugue was dispatched with crystalline lightness at an incredibly rapid clip. Yet every minute detail and inner voicing was clear and transparent. This was fearless musicianship that was always at the service of the music. Inspired music making!

Brahms's Four Pieces for Piano Op 119 were like musical whipped cream. Alternately dreamy and brilliant, this music can often sound prosaic in mundane performances but Ms Osetinskaya's versions were of the most remarkable variety. She brought poetry and that dark tonal sound that defines Brahms's oeuvre -- both orchestral and pianistic. Her shadings of light and shadow seemed to be sculpted in musical granite -- so idiomatic and assured was her subtly nuanced phrasing. The bravura finale literally exploded with pyrotechnical wizardry. Ms Osetinskaya manages that rare combination of keyboard razzle dazzle and deeply felt sensitivity for the score's poignant subtext.

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Copyright © 15 September 2005 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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