Thursday, October 13, 2011

Yefim Bronfman at Cal

The stage at Zellerbach was so dark that it took a moment to notice that pianist Yefim Bronfman was walking out. Looking a bit gruff, he bowed a couple of times & quickly sat down to begin the Brahms Sonata Op. 5 before we had fully settled down. His playing was powerful. The opening chords were were full & thick, & the next phrase was contrastingly light but not wispy. The Andante 2nd movement was delicate & consoling, & Bronfman did a wonderfully building crescendo toward the end. The Scherzo sounded a bit angry by comparison. The finale was robust.

Mr. Bronfman was a mighty virtuoso in 3 of Liszt's Transcendetal Etudes. His thundering Mazeppa was a roller coaster ride. I kept thinking of the PDQ Bach gag where the pianist puts on a seat belt. Bronfman used a lot of pedal in the Harmonies du Soir, but he never sounded muddy. He displayed a strong left hand in Chasse-Neige, & he always sounded fluid & made the long melodic lines clear. The audience responded with cheers.

After intermission Mr. Bronfman performed Prokofiev's Sonata No. 8. There is a nice connectedness to his playing, & he always hits all the notes of a chord precisely together. I like the buoyancy with which he plays runs of chords. He gets very involved & sometimes rises off the piano bench emphatically. The 1st movement of the Prokofiev was anguished, & the finale was ferocious. Mr. Bronfman looked like he was grabbing those final chords out of the keyboard & devouring them.

The audience gave Mr. Bronfman a standing ovation, though he looked kind of grumpy throughout the evening. He held the audience's attention fully, & people were quiet even between movements. It was disappointing to look behind me & see the auditorium only half full. For encores, we got 2 Chopin Etudes from Op. 10: a shimmering No. 1 in C major & the stormy No. 12 in C minor. It was a jolt to leave Zellerbach Hall & be greeted by the sound of a blaring Cal marching band in the plaza.

§ Yefim Bronfman, piano
Koret Recital Series
Cal Performances

Brahms: Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5
Liszt: Transcendental Etudes (selections)
IV. Mazeppa: Allegro
XI. Harmonies du Soir: Andantino
XII. Chasse-Neige: Andante con moto
Prokofiev: Sonata No. 8 in B-flat major, Op. 84

Chopin: Etude No. 1 in C major, Op. 10
Chopin: Etude No. 12 in C minor , Op. 10

Tue, Oct 11, 8 pm
Zellerbach Hall


Eugene said...

nice review, my fiancee and I were also there in the middle of the third row. Where were you seated?

Axel Feldheim said...

Thanks for reading. I really enjoy Bronfman's playing. You could probably see the sweat flying from where you were! I was farther back, in an aisle seat, about in the middle of the orchestra section.