|Beethoven:||Sonata No. 6 in F Major, Op. 10, No. 2|
|Brahms:||Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24|
|Messiaen:||Vingt Regards sur L'Enfant Jésus|
|Christopher Taylor, piano|
A large turnout Sunday afternoon at UW's Mills Hall provided strong evidence of interest in the successor to Howard Karp, pianist Christopher Taylor. Obviously he won their esteem, as indicated by prolonged applause and a standing ovation, and why not? -- there was so much to admire in his playing.
In both Beethoven's Sonata in F Major, Op. 10, No. 2 and Brahms' Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24 Taylor showed flashes of delicate subtlety alternating with high-tension bravura, underscoring the classical structure of both works. It seemed to me the music could benefit from a touch more breathing space, especially at the end of phrases. Tempos were just, though just at the edge of the precipice in faster movements.
The major event was the first ten of Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur L'Enfant Jésus, a stupefyingly difficult feat of pianism lasting 52 minutes, in the course of which virtually every conceivable mode of sounding the instrument is pressed into the service of the composer's ecstatic religious vision. I did not know the music beforehand, and there was far too much in it to absorb in a single hearing. Though this view is not entirely fair to Messiaen, some parts were a technical wonderment, but as a friend observed, a bit like contest music in effect: very, very hard to play but otherwise intuitively opaque, an aspect greater familiarity would probably clarify. The slow, soft, expressive parts were quite plainly glorious. In sum, Taylor is awesomely adept and there's plenty more to come.
Isthmus, October, 2000
Copyright 2000 Jess Anderson