Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) Artist Series presents Ian Gindes in Review
Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) Artist Series presents Ian Gindes
Ian Gindes, piano
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, New York, NY
May 30, 2017
The Memorial Day weekend concluded with a solo piano recital by a Captain in the Army National Guard, Ian Gindes, who has a formidable piano study pedigree (including a D. Mus. Arts). His recital was a study in stark contrast, with his best work in the twentieth-century American repertoire that he has made his calling card.
He began with an account of Bach’s first Partita (B-Flat major, BWV 825), and he kept his right foot far away from the sustaining pedal, which in itself is admirable, but which in this case led to somewhat stiff, wooden readings of all but the final movement. His contrapuntal clarity was good, but he never rolled a single chord in the entire work, which was particularly detrimental in the Sarabande, making it sound heavy rather than sensual. In the Menuet II, he did not wait the correct amount of time before beginning the repeats, rushing instead and creating a sort of unease in this listener. Finally, in the concluding Gigue, joy entered his fingers, and that was the best movement.
A Chopin group followed, it suffered from a lack of elegance and/or poetry in the interpretive approach. The famous E-Flat major Nocturne (Op. 9, No. 2) had a punched melody way too loud for the accompaniment, some wayward rubati and some artificial-sounding lingering (still, I’d rather be irritated than bored). The A-Flat major Impromptu (Op. 29) lacked sensitivity and a tossed-off quality. In the Etude (Op. 10, No. 3) in E major, Mr. Gindes did present the iconic melody very beautifully. The next Etude (Op. 10, No. 4) in C-Sharp minor showed that he can move his fingers in the requisite fashion, but it was marred by heaviness.
Mr. Gindes followed this with a Liszt group. Two selections from the less-often played Années de pelerinage: Suisse were included. Here his thunderous approach suited the Chapelle de Guillaume Tell very well, invoking church-organs, battle horns, and echoes across mountain valleys. In Au bord d’une source however, his water did not play and sparkle, the tempo was too slow, though in Liszt’s “small-note” cadenzas he played beautifully; I wish he had brought that quality to the whole piece. Part of my definition of virtuosity is not only the ability to play difficult pieces, but to give the audience the sense “of course I can do that, AND I can do so much more.” In Liszt’s Paganini Etude La Campanella, Liszt set out to create a level of difficulty in purely pianistic terms that would equal what Paganini made one lone violinist do. Mr. Gindes seemed at the outer limit of what he is capable of doing, with nothing left to spare.
After intermission, it was as though a different person took the stage. I marveled at the utter perfection of his Copland groups, and the Gershwin/Wild song transcription/etudes. Mr. Gindes played one of my all-time favorite piano transcriptions by Copland, his Oscar-nominated score for the movie version of Our Town (1940). I could not believe how completely he was attuned to the content of the music, the beautiful piano tone, and the absolutely appropriate sentiment of every moment.
Probably only Earl Wild could make his own etudes based on Gershwin popular songs sound completely easy and effortless, but Mr. Gindes certainly gives him a run for his money, particularly in the sensuous rendering of Embraceable You.
Mr. Gindes finished with Copland’s own piano transcription of his ballet Rodeo (1942) composed for Agnes de Mille. Every buckaroo sprang to life, the wistfulness of the silent corral at night, the dancing flirtations of the Saturday night couples, and the final Hoe-Down. It was truly a celebration of America and Americana, in which Mr. Gindes did NOT seem at the limit of what he could do.
We need more contemporary American piano music on recitals, and Ian Gindes can fulfill that role beautifully.