13 November 2007

Westfalenpost, Gevelsberg, Review by Christoph Clören

Virtuosically Inclined Romantic
Amir Katz Inspired with Mozart and Chopin in the
Master’s Concert of the Konzertgesellschaft (Concert Society)

Gevelsberg. One of the most promising pianists of the younger generation organized the most recent master’s concert of the Concert Society Gevelsberg: Amir Katz, 2003 winner of the Schubert Piano Competition in Dortmund, presented an evening consisting solely of the works of Mozart and Chopin.

Amir Katz’s very personal Mozart interpretation avoids fussy Rococo playfulness and the namby-pamby gauzy romanticism of the nineteenth century’s conception of Mozart just as much as the chilly, Prokofiev-like automaton playing of the late Friedrich Gulda who all too fiercely attempted to brush Mozart against the grain. Instead, Amir Katz emphasized clear accentuations, straightforward melodic phrasing, and studied articulation in the Piano Sonata in A minor, K. 310. With an energetic but never too banging rhythmic account and immaculate but unobtrusive technique, the Israeli master pianist let themes and motives speak for themselves and develop naturally. The tragic undertone of the sonata, whose genesis was overshadowed by the death of Mozart’s mother in Paris, rebounds only briefly in the cantabile design of the Andante – the disturbing chord passages in the middle section recall the looming disaster in the figure of the resurrected Commandatore from Don Giovanni who seals the fate of the titular hero. The Rondo follows, seeming to turn about itself in quiet resignation as a restlessly propelled perpetuum mobile. Katz succeeded in conjuring just as nightmarish a mood in the pallid atmosphere of the preceding Rondo in A minor whose lighter moments he plumbed with differentiated tone colors. In the Adagio in B minor at the beginning of the evening, it became finally and immediately clear how strongly influenced Mozart’s instrumental melodies are by the ideal of the vocal arias from his operas – including the dramatic arcs of tension in the middle section.

For every virtuoso Frederic Chopin’s twelve Etudes, Op. 10, are a touchstone. As a virtuosically inclined romantic, Amir Katz was completely in his element here after the intermission. With effortless looseness he overcame the breakneck technical hurdles: from the arpeggios in wide tenths in no. 1 in C major and the tricky, intricate, finger-knotting chromatic “Flight of the Bumblebee” scales in the A-minor etude, which only the intractable, sluggish fourth and fifth fingers can negotiate; to the songful expressive study no. 3 with effervescing, toccata-like intense double stops in the middle section; and the pianistic Hussar ride of no. 4 in C-sharp minor; to the brilliant arpeggios of no. 8; and the rustling figurations like surging storm swells in the “Revolutionary Etude” whose main theme, chiseled from unflagging rhythm, proclaims Chopin’s yearning for freedom in his beloved Polish homeland. Katz never lost sight of broad, melodic breathing phrases and dynamic curves of tension. Amir Katz treated the audience in Gevelsberg to three Chopin encores: two magically conjured waltzes with noble grandeur and fizzy temperament as well as the stormy “Octave Etude” from Op. 25 whose swelling and surging octave passages were mastered with steely precision – a full-blooded virtuoso if ever there were one!

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