Roman Rabinovich – January 27, 2024

On Saturday January 27th, 2024, we were treated to a piano recital sponsored by Chamber Music Kelowna. The visiting soloist, Roman Rabinovich, was born in Uzbekistan and emigrated to Israel. In 2008 he was the winner of the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition.

Besides being a pianist, he also is a composer and a visual artist.

Mr. Rabinovich, at this recital, played on the 9 foot Steinway grand piano that has been made available thanks to the generosity of David Krysko. Thank you David! We all benefited from your gift.

The program centered around the word “Fantasy.” Two of the three major works presented, Chopin’s Polonaise – Fantasie and Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasie, contain the word in the title. Mr Rabinovich also explained how the other pieces related to the word. The third major work was Franck’s Prelude, Chorale and Fugue. In all three of these selections, Roman demonstrated technical prowess, enhanced by a depth of musical understanding. Consistently there was clarity in the changing textural densities, so one did not have to struggle to follow the musical lines. His tasteful musical thoughts were clearly evident in how the melodies of these Romantic and post-Romantic pieces were all imbued with a wonderful cantabile sound. They breathed and flowed as if he were singing them. Such beauty! In the Chorale, I would have liked more of the lovely fluidity of line, challenging as it is, in the vertical textures. The organ-like texture of the Chorale sounded exquisite on the piano. The deeply resonant low strings added such richness to the sound.,

The single movement Sonata by the 20th century American composer George Walker presented harmonies that go beyond the common practice period principles, but because of how Walker used them the piece was exciting and Roman executed them tastefully. In this performance, I missed some of the contrapuntal weaving that I had heard in another recording.

After the interval we were treated to a selection of pieces from “The Battell” by William Byrd, a British composer of the late 1500s. Interpretive choices for early keyboard literature always includes the reality that the music was not written with the modern piano in mind. Mr. Rabinovich presented these pieces simply and tastefully. The gentleman seated next to me commented on how he could hear the actual battle. This was not only because of the texture of the piece but also the dynamic choices made by Mr. Rabinovich to show the changing physical proximity of the troops. Articulation choices brought the rhythms to life, especially in the first piece and the final galliard. The highlight of this suite, for me, was the “reverence” at the end of the galliard. It was executed so gracefully and musically that I could see the elegant arm movements associated with the bowing at the close of the dance. Roman’s technical skill was evident in the many scale passages and ornamented lines

From the 1500s we were quickly transported to a 21st century Sonatina written by Mr. Rabinovich.

The opening movement entitled “Fantasia” was expressionistic but seemed very easy to comprehend because of the slow speed which gave extra time for processing the dissonance.

Movement 2, entitled “Interlude” was rhythmically energetic with some virtuosic demands.

Movement 3, called “Noaly,” based on a song he sang to his daughter, is a theme and variations. I found all the contrapuntal interplay executed brilliantly. Movement 4, entitled “Finale: When Joe met John,” is a medley from Joe, (Haydn?) to John, (Elton?).” Brackets are mine. It was a flashy finish to a delightful performance by the composer.

The audience enjoyed the evening and they stood to honour Mr. Rabinovich. Thank you for an interesting and well-executed and musical performance.

Joe Berarducci resides in sunny Kelowna B.C. where he teaches piano and co-directs the children’s choir at the Community Music School. In 2006, Joe received the award of Honorary Life Member to Music for Children, Carl Orff Canada, musique pour enfants. 

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