Abduraimov shines

March 27, 2012 by Fraser Beath McEwing
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The International Pianists in Recital series held in Sydney’s Angel Place City Recital Hall got away to an exciting start with 22 year old Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov…writes Fraser Beath McEwing.

Behzod Abduraimov

Since winning the London International Piano competition in 2009, Abduraimov came to Australia with a bow wave of critical acclaim, some even suggesting that he might be the new Horowitz.

There are some similarities. Horowitz could play a note extra-pianissimo, yet it could be heard in the back row; so can Abduraimov.

Horowitz could whip his audience into momentary frenzy with technique: so can Abduraimov. Horowitz could linger on a romantic passage to melt your heart; so can Abduraimov. Another similarity is that they both opened recitals with Scarlatti sonatas but while Horowitz dealt in tiny, flying droplets of water, Abduraimov turned on the tap – so in that way they are not so similar.

Of course, it is hardly fair to compare a rising young star of the piano with a deceased legend. After the Scarlatti, Abduraimov just kept getting better. His Beethoven sonata Op.10 No.3 did the job Beethoven intended: to put virtuosity ahead of the weighty statements and drama of the later sonatas – although the slow movement had some majestic moments.

Brahms Variations on a Theme of Paganini (Johannes was one of a long queue of composers who all had a go at it) was superb. The party was hotting up. Abduraimov showed remarkable technique reserved for very few pianists as he dealt with the variations at frightening speed yet maintained clarity. Horowitz would have given it the nod. Those familiar with the Op.35 Book

Fraser Beath McEwing

1 wait for three octave glissandos that threaten to go down a pothole if you’re not careful. Abduraimov’s hand slid down the keys as though they were made of ice and made a safe landing at the other end.

After interval it was all Liszt, and this suited Abduraimov because the more he moved into the romantic repertoire the better he seemed to perform. Saint-Saens Danse Macarbe with some hot chillies thrown in by Horowitz was taken in his stride. Then came Benediction de Dieu dans la solitude, an introspective and haunting piece that was one of Liszt’s favourites. Here Abduraimov showed he was not all fireworks, as he caressed and soothed his way through the melancholy without hurry.

The concert finished with the Mephisto Waltz No 1, which has, through overuse, become a sprint championship for pianists, especially young ones. A lot was expected and Abduraimov delivered, varying tempo and tone to give it a validity that hard to extract from the crust of familiarity.

Fraser Beath McEwing is an accomplished pianist and commentator on classical music performance and is a founding member of The theme & Variations Foundation Advisory Board which provides assistance to talented young Australian pianist. His professional background is in journalism, editing and publishing. He is also the author of three novels.He is a Governor of the Sir Mose Montefiore Home.


One Response to “Abduraimov shines”
  1. singer says:

    Great review Fraser.

    I was there – and sat in the second back row – where the sound was superlative. Every note had a crystal clarity that I have rarely been privileged to hear.

    My wife (who is a pianist) had only one criticism – the use of the pedal in the Scarlatti. She too was amazed at the maturity and brilliance of this 22 year old star.

    He has just released his first disc – which contains many pieces from last nights repertoire.

    For those not fortunate enough to be present – buying the disc will be a worthwhile purchase.

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