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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 3, No. 4

Concert Review: Constantin Lifschitz

December 1, 1997

Constantin Lifschitz, piano
Salle Pierre-Mercure
November 24, 1997

The Montreal debut of pianist Constantin Lifschitz was a musical event of major importance. A healthy crowd filled Salle Pierre-Mercure to hear the 21-year-old Russian with the pale, bearded profile of a young rabbinical student. At the keyboard Lifschitz slouched and turned his head turned away from the audience as if to better hear what he was playing. His hands dangled from flexible wrists and his extremely long fingers caressed the keys with a fluid, rubbery motion. From the first bars of Rameau's Suite in E Minor, Lifschitz displayed an architectural or mathematical rather than an organic conception of the music. Deploying a palette of colors and pianistic effects achieved by careful articulation, weighty attack, and sparing use of the sustaining pedal, Lifschitz conveyed both strength and intimacy. Haydn's Sonata in D major revealed the dangers of an excessively intellectual approach. Lifschitz played the first movement with a uniformly heavy weight more appropriate to a Beethoven sonata. The Andante was played Lento, with all the repeats, and it seemed to go on forever. Lifschitz played the final movement presto rather than the indicated allegro assai, but his light fingering and clear articulation turned out a sparkling gem. Glenn Gould probably would have approved. Four single-movement Mozart pieces were played unsentimentally with precise accents and crisp articulation. The program's concluding Four Impromptus, op. 90, by Schubert confirmed Lifschitz's brilliant talent. He again conveyed emotion by contrasting the lyrical passages with the dramatic passages. Of the four encores, I have never heard the second movement from Schubert's A major Sonata, D.959, more beautifully played. It should be the pièce de resistance on Palexa's live recording of this recital. - Martin Kamela (photo: Marc Duchemin)

(c) La Scena Musicale