A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

Pianist Murray Perahia / Photo courtesy of LA Phil

At Walt Disney Concert Hall, the standing ovation at the end of the recital provides a fairly accurate barometer for the enthusiasm level in the hall. At the conclusion of Murray Perahia’s recital on April 24, the standing ovation was unusually swift and extended, and the audience filled the hall with loud applause that persisted over many curtain calls. It was not hard to figure out why.

Perahia, titan of the piano, delivered a riveting performance that captivated the audience’s imagination. He played a program of comedy, intrigue and drama with a collection of familiar Classical and Romantic works.

The recital started with Haydn’s Variations in F Minor, which started with a somber theme that quickly took on a life of its own. Perahia weaved into the peace dashes of humor, frightful moments and unexpected twists, as the piece seemed to march forward lugubriously towards its inevitable conclusion.

Perahia’s rendition of Mozart’s Sonata in A minor KV 330 was tense and dramatic, with a tangible restlessness pervading the piece. The meditative middle movement provided a brief respite, but the tension immediately resurfaced in the last movement, a whirlwind of activity that motored to the end.

The set of Brahms late piano pieces that followed explored a variety of moods, but all shared a radiance and richness from the full chordal textures from Perahia’s playing. Especially memorable was the Intermezzo Op. 119 No. 3 in C major, a playful piece with a sunny and warm disposition.

After the intermission, Perahia played one of the most challenging piano works in the classical repertory, Beethoven’s Sonata No. 29 in B flat Major, the “Hammerklavier.” With flawless virtuosity, and bold strokes, Perahia captured the psyche of late-period Beethoven, with manic bursts of energy, heart-rending sadness and a relentless drive to push boundaries, both musical and emotional. At the end of the concluding fugue, the audience swiftly rose to their feet, paying tribute to a master of the piano very much still at the height of his craft.

—Hao Yuan Kueh, Culture Spot LA

For information about upcoming concerts, visit www.laphil.com.