Friday, April 3, 2009

Classical Weight: Bryan Wagorn, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, NYC, 4/2/09

Vowing to make more of an effort to actually leave my apartment and seek out the innumerable cultural endeavors this great city has to offer, I recently started flipping through Time Out and New York Magazine in search of some outlet away from Netflix and DVR. A few days back, there was one particular event (along with others) that caught my attention. Not Elvis Costello at The Beacon or Umphrey's at Nokia, but rather, Bryan Wagorn -- an acclaimed, twenty-something Canadian pianist who performed last night at the Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall. This was the change of pace I was craving.

Wagorn, who studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto (the same institution attended by Glenn Gould), impressively showcased his array of talents before an audience of about 200 people at the very intimate Weill Recital Hall on 57th Street. His approach to the piano is both naturalistic and methodical -- as opposed to the overemphasis on ebullience displayed by many of the young concert pianists today. So much so, that at times I felt as if his technique encapsulated the essence of each piece in the manner in which they were intended, not expected, to be played. There was a certain raw appeal to his style, and I mean that in the most complimentary way.

Wagorn's first choice of the evening was Bach's "Prelude and Fugue in F-sharp minor" -- a moving and arduous piece of music. As a Bach devotee, I guess I'm biased in thinking that it was my favorite and his best performance of the night, but it was apparent from watching Wagorn that he was especially connected to this piece on an emotional level as well -- perhaps in homage to Gould whom he recently honored at Canada's Museum of Civilization. Gazing at the audience, they were equally captivated.

Also wonderfully executed was Beethoven's "Piano Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op.111" -- a demanding piece that requires a high level of proficiency and inspiration from any artist. Wagorn continued with Ravel's "Valses Nobles et Sentimentales" and concluded the evening with Schumann's "Sonata in F-sharp minor, Op.11." The latter proved to be a difficult and sweeping piece, but Wagorn gave every last bit of effort to masterfully complete this beautiful selection. Wagorn is certainly one to watch and I look forward to his next appearance in New York.

Music aside, I was both surprised and ecstatic to notice that about half of those in attendance were between the ages of 20-40. There were few suits, few snobs, and I even spotted a baseball cap here and there in the audience. Everyone from wealthy Upper East-Siders to East Village hipsters were moved and entranced alike. This is what it's all about. Maybe I was wrong; perhaps a sub-culture of us still do exist who have a passion for classical music, or on a wider scale, great art as whole. Either way, I was glad to take part in its celebration last night. It was a relief to say the least.

Bryan Wagorn, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, 4/2/09

J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in F-sharp minor from Book Two of the Well-Tempered Clavier; BMV 883
L. van Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor; Op. 111
M. Ravel: Valses Nobles et Sentimentales
R. Schumann: Sonata in F-sharp minor; Op. 11

Other Suggested listening:

Rosalyn Tureck - The Well-Tempered Claiver, Books I & II (J.S. Bach)
Glenn Gould, The Goldberg Variations (J.S. Bach)
Arthur Brendel - Piano Sonatas No. 8 in C minor, "Pathetique"; No. 14 in C-sharp minor "Moonlight" (L. van Beethoven)
Artur Rubinstein - 19 Nocturnes (F. Chopin)
Vladimir Ashkenazy - 24 Preludes (S. Rachmaninov)

6 comments:

WeightStaff said...

nice piece. glad you got to take advantage of a different side of NYC. ...and if you'll excuse me, I'll now go back to rotting my brain with by celebrity gossip blogs and watching reality TV.

DL
The Weight

WeightStaff said...

Thanks -- I'm sure the BSO (not DSO) has some decent upcoming events if you pulled yourself away from "Wife Swap" or "For the Love of Ray J..." {Gag!!}

; )

DS

WeightStaff said...

Wow. That's a sick set, man. I totally hope they play YEM at Jones Beach. Huh...It's who? Who the hell is that? I knew I didn't recognize any songs. Never heard of him.

(I do respect it though)

Ryan

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