YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


A touch of Horowitz amid patter and pooches

Personable pianist Mordecai Shehori pays homage to his mentor in his alfresco West Coast debut at the Atelier.

June 12, 2007|Rick Schultz | Special to The Times

Pianist Mordecai Shehori, who left a cult following in New York in 2005 to take up residence in Las Vegas, is not well known in Los Angeles. Sunday afternoon, he made an entertaining, if not entirely satisfying, West Coast debut at the Atelier in Mar Vista, performing works by Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt and Pabst.

The Atelier's bucolic setting, the large courtyard of a private home and art studio, suggested a miniature Ojai Music Festival, all chirping birds and rustling trees, plus a pair of wandering lapdogs.

The first performer in what is planned as a casual recital series to demonstrate restored pianos (for sale, of course), the Israeli-born Shehori, 61, presented himself alternately as poet and Golden Age virtuoso, rabbi and stand-up comedian. Microphone in hand, he gave highly personal and amusing introductions to each piece and regaled an appreciative audience with tales of musical friends, including a spot-on imitation of his mentor, the great pianist Vladimir Horowitz.

Links to Shehori's past seemed to bring out the poetry in his playing. His elegiac performance of Mozart's Rondo in A minor, K. 511, a piece he said Horowitz played for him the day before he died, proved moving. It was preceded by a rhythmically supple account of the composer's Fantasy in C minor, K. 396, during which Shehori's concentration was tested by a music-loving bichon frise who roamed under the 1942 Steinway.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday June 16, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 33 words Type of Material: Correction
Pianist Mordecai Shehori: A review in Tuesday's Calendar section said pianist Mordecai Shehori's performance Sunday at the Atelier in Mar Vista was the first recital of a planned series. It was the second.

In the biggest piece, Beethoven's "Waldstein" Sonata, the pianist seemed reluctant to dig too deeply. Overhasty in the middle Adagio molto section, he missed the magical buildup to the thrilling Rondo finale. This was an uneven performance -- all rhythmic drive without a radiant core.

The Liszt-heavy second half featured a fiery "Funerailles" -- Shehori hardly broke a sweat producing those raging left-hand octaves -- but the subtle control of dynamics that marked the Mozart Rondo and his superb performance of Liszt's lovely Impromptu in F sharp deserted him, turning unpleasantly percussive in this intimate venue.

Sandwiched between rather lackluster renditions of "Au bord d'une source" (By the Side of a Spring) and a Canzone after Rossini's "Otello," the proto-Impressionist "Les jeux d'eaux a la Villa d'Este" (Fountains at the Villa d'Este) displayed Shehori at his warmest and most communicative.

The recital concluded with Paul Pabst's fiendishly difficult transcription of themes from Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin," played with a flair Horowitz would have appreciated.

Los Angeles Times Articles