A Pianist Who Makes Chopin Her Own

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Yuliya Gorenman is an admirably complete Chopin pianist. In an all-Chopin recital at the Phillips Collection on Sunday, she displayed the big-boned tone and dramatic instincts of a Russian-trained pianist, the virtuoso dazzle of an international competitor (she was a prize-winner at the Queen Elizabeth Competition of Belgium) and the illuminating clarity of a piano professor (she's currently on the American University faculty).

Gorenman chose a program that emphasized substance over flash -- two of the less-often played nocturnes, an unusually introspective Etude, Op. 25, No. 7, and Sonatas No. 2 and 3. None of this music presented technical hurdles for the pianist. Her command in the final movement of the Third Sonata or in the "Revolutionary" Etude (one of her encores) silenced criticism.

But what impressed even more was her ability to marry seemingly contradictory interpretative styles -- emphasizing musical architecture one moment and freely molding rhythms the next, taking in large swaths of a score in a single sweep, then pausing to set off a certain phrase for greater scrutiny.

What might have been a muddle of literalism and deconstruction in another pianist's hands became, with Gorenman, an exciting dialogue between Chopin's classical and romantic sides.

-- Joe Banno

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