Thursday at 8:00 pm
“Bach-like counterpoint, Gershwinesque swing, Mozartian grace, nostalgic Danubian waltzes”—these are qualities of the Bartók 3rd Piano Concerto that New Yorker critic Richard Brody heard for the first time last month. In the piece he calls “his obsession,” Brody’s illuminations came through the fingers of pianist Peter Serkin, who performed the Concerto with the New York Philharmonic in April.
Son of the great Rudolf Serkin, the 66-year-old Peter distinguished himself right out of the gate, winning a Grammy Award (1966) at 19 as Best New Classical Artist. Peter Serkin does play the staples like Mozart and Beethoven, but largely took a bold leap away from his father’s legacy, into the thornier realm of 20th century masters like Messiaen, Wourinen, Takemitsu, Boulez, Carter, Schoenberg etc.—if anything, it’s that highly individualized language of those composers which imbued Serkin with the range of expression that comes out of this Bartók performance.
Brody goes on to sing praises for the 36-year-old Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado; Heras-Casado did a program of Falla, Ravel, and Debussy with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last year. The Philharmonic lets the young maestro climb out of his Spanish skin to lead the orchestra in the Bartók, some “heart-pounding” Shostakovich (according to The New York Times), and Britten. Brody calls the concert “unmissable,” and it can be heard on Thursday night at 8:00 pm on WFMT.