Saturday, March 20, 2010

Nareh Arghamanyan

SF Performances
2010 Gift Concert
Thursday, March 18 8pm
Herbst Theatre

Nareh Arghamanyan, piano

Scarlatti: Three Sonatas
Schumann: Humoreske in B-flat Major, Op. 20
Liszt: Ballade No. 2 in B minor
Rachmaninoff: Etudes tableaux, Op. 33

Bach: Adagio from Concerto in D minor after Marcello BWV 974
Mozart: Turkish Rondo
Khachaturian: Sabre Dance

As a gift to subscribers, SF Performances presented this recital featuring young Armenian pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, winner of the 2008 Montreal International Music Competition. She opened with 3 Scarlatti Sonatas, all in the key of d minor. She immediately established a dreamy mood which was never fully absent from her performance. Her sound is round & full, fluid rather than percussive. I was impressed by her voicing & the way all the notes of her chords begin precisely together.

Regardless of the composer or style of the piece, she played everything in a seamless & romantic way. Even her Bach encore sounded more like Chopin. The 3 different Scarlatti Sonatas & the multi-movement Schumann Humoreske & Rachmaninoff Etudes came out joined & continuous, even though their sections are quite contrasting. I listened to much of her recital with my eyes closed, pulled into an inner reverie. The audience was very still. The effect seemed to have little to do with the particular piece she was playing. Instead it was a result of her intimate & involved manner of playing. (The scary German in me wants to call it innig, after a movement of the Schumann Humoreske).

She allowed herself to break character a bit in her encores, which she offered without waiting for lengthy applause. Her version of the Mozart Turkish Rondo was jokingly enhanced with distinctly un-Mozartian riffs & fat chords which made it sound like a transcription by Rachmaninoff. She also got some laughs from her playful yet taut version of the Sabre Dance, at the end of which she whisked her hands quickly away from the keyboard.

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