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Choral and Vocal
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Choral and Vocal
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Symphony
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by Steve Osborn
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Chamber
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Chamber
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Recital
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by Gary Digman
Friday, April 29, 2022
RECITAL REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Thursday, July 18, 2013
Robert Schwartz, piano

Pianist Robert Schwartz

LOVELY BACH AND CHOPIN IN SCHWARTZ' TRUNCATED MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL

by Ed Reinhart
Thursday, July 18, 2013

Piano aficionados crowded into Mendocino's Preston Hall on July 18 to hear Robert Schwartz in recital, part of the piano series at the Mendocino Music Festival in Mendocino.

Mr. Schwartz opened with Bachís Partita No. 4 in D Major, S. 828, and spoke to the audience to audience about the piece prior to performing. He described the D Major Key as "The Golden Key" because it seems so well-suited to triumphal and processional sounds. In the first movement Mr. Schwartz demonstrated an intimate understanding of the double-dotted figures which, while conveying a feeling of free-floating rhythmic variation, nonetheless require precision and discipline in order to capture the proper effect.

The second movement's elaborate demands on the right hand were performed flawlessly. It was a difficult technical hurdle that the pianist was able to master with seeming ease. Also notable was the conclusion of the fourth movement which Mr. Schwartz presented in a manner that was at the same time strong and yet delicate and nuanced. The concluding Gigue was brilliantly played, and the audience showed its appreciation with sustained applause after the final measures.

Next came Chopin's Polonaise-Fantaisie, Op. 61. Ever the academic, Mr. Schwartz described Chopin's innovative relationship with the damper (sustain) pedal, which he used to develop harmonic overtones beneath the melody of this piece. The artistís ability to capture several varieties of emotional expression in just a few bars, and to create a seamless flow from one phrase to another, was nothing short of amazing. He demonstrated a particular skill at combining delicacy and strength throughout the piece to such a degree that, in addition to giving a vigorous round of applause, some of the audience rose to their feet at the conclusion of the piece.

All probably would have continued to the conclusion of the afternoon's performance, but that was not to be. Mr. Schwartzís performance came to an end prior to playing Book I of Debussy's Preludes. The room at Preston Hall had been closed up against Mendocino's chilly morning fog, but shortly after Mr. Schwartz began his performance the weather warmed, the sun came out, and the room became oppressively stuffy. Although his playing was of the highest caliber, Mr. Schwartz could be seen wiping his face and head with a handkerchief during Chopinís late Polonaise. An announcement was made that the artist was not feeling well and would not be able to perform the Debussy.

While this was of course unhappy news for the audience, most were agreed that they still had been treated to an extraordinary, if truncated, concert experience.