REVIEW (HT): NAOUMOFF RECITAL – Weekend keyboard recitals featured challenging

Music reviews: Weekend keyboard recitals featured challenging programs

By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer |
June 25, 2013

A pair of weekend recitals featured gifted keyboard artists unwilling to play it safe: organist Janette Fishell and pianist Emile Naoumoff. They always tend to give their all and then some while engaged in the most challenging of repertoire.


On Sunday afternoon in Auer, IU faculty pianist Emile Naoumoff gave another exhibition of his talents, these not only limited to playing the piano but composing for it. In fact, the recital ended with the premiere of his four-part Suite for Piano, “Les Saisons de la Vie” (“The Seasons of Life”), featuring music of an evanescent, floating nature, suggestive of Impressionism and of a life lived rather serenely until the final movement, “Entrainant,” which whips up storm and passion.

In his own work and the music that preceded, Schumann’s “Carnaval” and Ravel’s “Valses nobles et sentimentales,” two piano masterpieces, Naoumoff once again proved that as a keyboard technician, he’s an absolute whiz. As an artist, he’s generous and definitely an independent, seemingly always in search of highly individual approaches to interpretation. Looking for stylistic and conceptual effects, he’s drawn to extremes in rhythm, speed and dynamics that are, no doubt, attention getting but can, at times, reduce a work’s effectiveness.

In both the festive “Carnaval,” a sometimes rousing, sometimes reflective journey to and through a masked ball during carnival season, and the dreamy suite of waltzes by Ravel, some meant to be noble and others sentimental, there were flings toward expressive boundaries. In the process, composer intent might have been compromised, but Naoumoff is a hold-nothing-back sort of musician who knows how to entertain. He does that via fertile imagination and overwhelming technical mastery of the piano; what he accomplishes is fun to watch and interesting to hear.

So it was on Sunday. Emile Naoumoff was in excellent form, causing the audience, appreciatively, to roar.

Copyright: 2013


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