Chopin Project Founder and Producer, Frederick Slutsky, shares Sarasota Herald Tribune correspondent Richard Storm’s review of two Chopin Project Concerts held Saturday and Sunday, September 24 and 25.

 

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By Richard Storm / Correspondent
There was an explosion of talent and skill at the Chopin Project concert Saturday afternoon, when the young and impressive pianist, Matthew Graybil gave a recital of music by Fryderyk Chopin and his contemporaries in the resonant acoustics and superb architecture of the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Graybil’s formidable technical prowess may not be unique in these days of flashy pianism, but the maturity of his interpretations and the eloquence of his presentation was exceptionally gripping and illuminating. Beginning with a familiar work by Johann Sebastian Bach, the Sarabande from his third French Suite, Graybil immediately established his credentials with a thoughtful and supple performance, beautifully shaped and entirely at the service of the music. Mozart’s Rondo in A Minor, an unusual use of the minor key for this composer, extended the scope of influences on Chopin by his predecessors. Chopin’s own Scherzo in B-flat Minor is an homage to his colleagues in the Paris music scene, shamelessly employing his technical skills and demanding the same from the performer, something achieved perfectly in this stunning rendition.

An unusual and seldom-heard transcription for piano of Bellini’s beloved aria, “Casta Diva” from his monumental opera, “Norma,” closed the first part of the program in a torrent of chromatic writing delivered effortlessly by Graybil.

One of the goals of the Chopin Project, founded at the University of Michigan in 2007, has been to make the composer’s music more accessible to young performers by publishing somewhat easier arrangements of familiar compositions. In this program, student Nicole Pekarek joined Graybil in a charming version of a favorite recital piece, the third etude in Chopin’s Opus 10 repertoire. Two of the beloved Nocturnes followed in performances which emphasized the both adventurous chromaticism and dreamy textures, effortlessly presented by Graybil with subdued elegance.

‘Chopin and His World’
Reviewed Sept. 24 and 25 at Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarsaota. Presented by Chopin Project. chopinproject.com

Two works by Chopin’s friends, Robert Schumann and Franz Liszt: Schumann’s “Widmung” and Liszt’s massive “Vallee d’Obermann,” closed the program with both impressive technique and quiet elegance.

This young man has a great career ahead of him.

Difficult as it may seem, the second part of the Chopin Project, heard Sunday afternoon, was even more impressive than the first. Graybil performed a program that featured more Chopin, including some rarely heard and incredibly difficult items.

For another appreciative audience, which included several students, he played a fine collection of etudes, the Mazurka in E Minor and three seldom-heard etudes, as well as the second piano sonata, in B-flat Minor, a piece seemingly outside the scope of human pianistic skill and which includes the familiar Funeral March.

The program concluded with an astonishing piano version of the “Danse Infernale” from Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” ballet.

Once again – WOW!