Murray Perahia @ Zellerbach Hall, presented by Cal Performances
On March 11, world-renowned concert pianist Murray Perahia gave an afternoon concert at Zellerbach Hall. The program consisted of J.S. Bach’s French Suite No. 5, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 27, Brahms’ Klavierstücke, Schubert’s Piano Sonata in A Major, and a selection of four Chopin pieces.
As mentioned in an earlier review, there is always a question of how best to interpret the works of Bach and his contemporaries for piano. Being originally written for a harpsichord, which has a different dynamic range and no pedals, Bach interpretations vary greatly from pianist to pianist. I personally prefer the interpretation provided by Perahia, as exemplified in this concert. The piano is not a harpsichord and as such, should not be played like a harpsichord. Perahia, in his liberal use of pedaling and dynamic variation, produces sounds that encompass the vast tonal spectrum of this instrument.
Overall, the performance was very impressive, though I do have one complaint. Perhaps it is only my personal tastes, but when I listen to Chopin, I expect to hear his work played with tremendous amounts of passion and energy (à la Argerich). It was surprising, and somewhat disappointing, to hear Perahia perform the Chopin pieces with such reservation. This is especially surprising after (1) hearing him perform the Brahms Klavierstücke, a technically demanding suite which he performed with gusto, and (2) listening to his CD recording of 24 Chopin études, which is far more expressive. Nevertheless, it is always a treat to see such a talented and experienced pianist perform live.