Pianist Krisztina Wajsza brings classical to campus

Tuesday evening, Feagin Visiting Artist Krisztina Wajsza regaled an enthusiastic audience in Lorton Performance Center’s Gussman Hall with a virtuosic solo piano performance to kickstart her weeklong residency in Tulsa. Audiences familiar with the classical genre will know that solo piano performances have a capacity for a particularly large range of delicacy and power, and the Swiss Wajsza delivered a packed program to show off her intense ability.

The evening began, as many do, with Mozart – Sonata in c minor, KV 457, written in Vienna in 1784, seven years before the composer’s untimely death. Mozart tends to stay fervently attached to the classical forms in his music, so performers often opt to begin the program with etiquette and precision before launching into the juicy stuff. Wajsza’s performance delighted, particularly her effortless performance of the luscious second movement.

Next on the docket was Robert Schumann’s “Waldszenen,” or “Forest Scenes,” a collection of 9 short pieces played in quick succession. These are called “character pieces” – each one is a self-contained entity that takes its place amongst the others in service to the longer musical line. This is an interesting piece from Schumann, who rallied against program music: music that requires extra musical input for effect. EHowever, each of the movements carries a title like “Jäger auf der Lauer (Hunters on the Lookout)” and “Herberge (Wayside Inn).” Listening to the piece felt almost like watching a Disney animation, with Wajsza the nostalgic narrator, even with the piece’s apparent lack of conceptual story. In the final movement, “Abschied (Farewell),” this charmed piece gently calls the listener out of the forest and back into life, wistfully remembering its own experiences.

After the intermission, the concert resumed with another case of character pieces, but this time, with the dramatic flair and colorful language of Maurice Ravel’s “Walzes nobles et sentimentales.” The piece is comprised of eight short pieces, all united by the waltz format, and inspired by the Viennese Franz Schubert’s set of piano waltzes. Ravel was a master pianist and orchestrator, so his works often bounce between extreme bombast and gentle intimacy, which Wajsza accomplished beautifully. This is a case wherein technical accuracy is subservient to the overall effect of the piece, and while the pianist was occasionally imprecise, the audience roared with approval after the lush and delicate final movement.

Before the applause could even die down, Wajsza raced back to the piano and pounced on the beginning low piano rip of Franz Liszt’s “Wilde Jagd (The Wild Hunt),” one of his “Transcendental Etudes.” Liszt is well-regarded for his rich program music and faint-inducing virtuosity, and Wajsza delivered, projecting the soaring melodies over the grumbling bass in this fierce, adventurous romp. Wajsza was beckoned back to the stage for an encore, in which she played Alexander Scriabin’s “Nocturne for the Left Hand,” op. 9 as a final, impressive display of her technique and expression with only one hand. Well-known for his apocalyptic ambitions (he wrote an immense piece designed to end the world), this early work gently lulls the world to sleep, with only a hint of his internal fire and brimstone.

Post Author: tucollegian

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