in: Reviews

August 20, 2011

Russian Audience for Russian Pianist

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About twenty people showed up, mostly Russian, to greet Russian pianist Alexandre Abdoulaev in an hour-long recital on Wednesday, August 17, at 5:30 pm at Church of St. John the Evangelist on Beacon Hill. The pianist is pursuing a doctorate in historical musicology at Boston University. In a statement from the front of the church, the artist explained that the recital was devoted to the idea of sonata, even though the last two pieces eschewed the tltle of “sonata.”

The Sonata in E Major, K. 380 of Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) was nicely inflected, and Abdoulaev took all the repeats. Then came Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 333 of Mozart’s (1756-1791). There were minor note mistakes in the opening Allegro movement, but in the second movement a surprise harmony after the repeat sign was well handled; he played it straight, no embellishments — nor in the Scarlatti, either). The Allegretto grazioso movement was taken too fast, but he outlined the rondo form well.

After a three-minute intermission came Jeux d’eau of Ravel (1875-1937)and Estampes of Debussy (1862-1918). The first was a calm piece and, frankly, watery. The second, the translation of which is “prints,” is a tripartite piece, nicely outlined by big pauses from the pianist. Here the composer is in full charge of his harmonies and the range of the piece. The 1880’s vintage Steinway B sounded good, and the piece ended in the major mode.

St. John the Evangelist’s Wednesday Concert Series continues throughout the year

Larry Phillips studied music at Harvard, the Montreal Conservatory, and at New England Conservatory. In 1974 he was a prizewinner at the International Harpsichord Competition in Bruges, Belgium.

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