YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Four Pianists Show Stravinsky's Charms

August 07, 1996|DANIEL CARIAGA

Four professional-level pianists, all born in the former Soviet Union, all students of Alexander Toradze at Indiana University South Bend, concluded a summer mini-festival of music by Igor Stravinsky at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre Monday night.

Such a "class concert," as professor Toradze--who himself did not play--told a lively audience, is a European tradition: A famous pianist-pedagogue presents some of his proteges, clearly representing the best of his teaching, to the public. In fact, these four have already appeared as a group in other venues on both sides of the Atlantic.

Aside from the virtuoso capabilities and musical astuteness of the pianists--Vakhtang Kodanashvili, Maxim Mogilevsky, Svetlana Smolina and George Vatchnadze--the program was the thing here.

The great Sonata (1924), the Concerto for Two Solo Pianos (1931-35), two of the Etudes, Opus 7, a long snippet (arranged by the composer) from "L'oiseau de feu," the ubiquitous Three Movements from "Petrushka" and the four-hand version of "Sacre du Printemps" delighted the ear with Stravinsky's breadth and contrasting 20th century charms.

Only in the "Sacre" arrangement--for four hands on one piano, but here realized on two separate instruments--did one miss the full range of keyboard possibilities. Still, it was played effortlessly by Vatchnadze and Kodanashvili.

Each of the soloists showed individuality--always the sign of a superior teacher. Mogilevsky, scion of a family of musicians, displayed a charismatic manner and an irrepressible personality. Smolina's defining of the lyric aspects in the music she played made her performances cherishable. Vatchnadze, who also teaches at the South Bend campus, brought deep authority and a stunning and reliable technique to his assignments.

It may have been chilly at the amphitheater, but one didn't mind being there long after 10 o'clock.

Los Angeles Times Articles