Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

MUSIC REVIEW

Van Cliburn Finalist Strikes a Joyful Chord

September 30, 1997|DANIEL CARIAGA | TIMES MUSIC WRITER

By the time Jan Gottlieb Jiracek offered Olivier Messiaen's jazzy, contagiously festive "Regard de l'esprit de joie," at the conclusion of the first half of his recital Sunday afternoon, a spirit of joy already reigned in the concert hall at Whittier College. The 24-year-old German pianist, in the second of two Southern California appearances over the weekend, was in command.

One of the six finalists in the 10th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition held in Fort Worth in May and June, Jiracek, though he took home none of the three top medals, had been identified as special from the early rounds, according to reports from the competition.

In the intimate, if rather over-resonant, Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts, Jiracek proved his devotees correct.

He possesses a muscular, broad, colorful technique, makes music with great spontaneity and communicates strongly with his listeners. His program showed his strengths, his impeccable taste and his love of music.

Schubert's "Wanderer" Fantasy displayed impressive emotional breadth as well as mechanical solidity; laid out with an analyst's probing, it also touched the core of poetry that runs through it. At the other end of the agenda, another big-boned C-major Fantasy, the one by Schumann, revealed the composer's expressiveness and the wondrous resources in Jiracek's technical arsenal.

In between, there were contrasts aplenty in the three Intermezzos of Brahms' Opus 117 and in that irresistible excerpt from Messiaen's "Vingt Regards," a brief work so powerful it could convert the heathen. At the end, a single encore capped the afternoon: George Gershwin's own transcription of his song "I Got Rhythm."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|