Success in Lucerne

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It’s always nice when critics, and I do mean critics, are in unison with positive feedback about a concert.  It is even nicer when it is an artist as deserving as Nareh Arghamanyan.  The Lucerne Festival and Lucerne in general have hosted numerous great pianists over the past several decades.  Instead of bringing a program with “war horse” music (why are great works called war horses?!), Nareh showed great creativity in programming.  At a time when “Russian piano playing” can be a blessing or a curse in the music world (which is ridiculous), she presented a program that could not be stereotyped.  Medtner’s Sonata Reminicenza is hardly a powerful,  blazing, or virtuoso showpiece.  It is not one showcasing utter despair.  Thus, the stereotype of Russian Music is hard to apply here.  She played it alongside Scriabin’s Piano Sonata No. 3, which shows tremendous contrast between the two great Russian piano composers.  And again, another tremendous contrast could be heard in the music by Glinka and Stravinsky (The Firebird transcribed), while including transcriptions of today’s favorite Russian piano composer, Rachmaninoff.  Not the type of program that Richter, Gilels, or any number of Russian pianists performed.  But we should admire the incredible reflection on the variety of Russian piano music that was performed – not just brilliantly (a couple of excerpts from the program can be found on Youtube) but also with a keen interest in reminding us that there is more to this music than a stereotype.  If one chooses, it can be a wonderful journey filled with joy, beauty, and serenity – but also intense emotion and explosiveness.     (from an American’s view)