Music review: Yuliya Gorenman plays Beethoven sonatas at the Katzen Center

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pianist Yuliya Gorenman doesn't have to make the impossible sound easy. She merely makes it happen. A packed house at Katzen Arts Center seemed to concur Saturday evening, leaping to its feet following Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" sonata.

The penultimate installment in Gorenman's complete Beethoven sonata project, this American University recital featured Nos. 27-29. The danger in such protracted undertakings is that an interpretive sameness can set in -- anathema to Beethoven, whose manifestation of both the human condition and the divine is an extreme ride at anyone's theme park.

Gorenman's Beethoven bristled with life. She plays him from the inside out, revealing his interior struggles while making fully incarnate his exterior -- the irony, sarcasm, ecstatic beauty, paradox, and the leonine raging against an incipient silence. In short, to hear Gorenman is to hear Beethoven for the first time. "He's got my number," she quipped after her nearly two-hour recital.

A powerful individual with an unaffected stage presence, Gorenman is capable of seismic fortissimos, yet at home with the childlike whimsy of Sonata 27's second movement. She is also agile, negotiating Beethoven's trademark hairpin twists and turns deftly, drawing strength from each so that by her fourth encore the audience voiced its astonishment.

The last leg of Gorenman's project is set for March. The Katzen Center offers free, accessible parking and ticket prices that rival a night at the multiplex.

-- Alfred Thigpen

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