Okay ... lovely, lovely evening out with the missus. Followed by three days of horrible flu (but totally worth it!)
First of all, we dropped too much money on dinner and wine at a really nice restaurant across from the hall ... risotto to die for (with pan-seared scallops) ... yummy. And my merlot was divine!
Bass Performance Hall is just a really great hall. Beautiful marble entryway ... and the 45 foot trumpeting angels towering over the street are quite impressive. Our seats were great ... 3rd row slightly to the left of the piano. So close, I made eye-contact with MAH several times ... I was cheering so loud, it had to be acknowledged!
I told my wife later that any other mortal pianist would have splashed some sweat on us we were so close! lol
He started off with Haydn variations... I'd never heard these, but he played them impeccably ... and OH MY GOD THE MAN CAN TRILL. He was just non-chalantly rattling off these 5-4 trills that were making my heart palpitate. I've got to insert a comment here about the people who decided to bring their diseased, emphesyma-riddled lungs to the concert. It was quite distracting. In fact, it caused no end of grief to the older gentleman (and his much younger, and much tanner, boy-toy) seated in front of us.
Next up was the a minor Mozart sonata ... you know the one, it starts off with those off-putting grace notes? He did a good job, but this is far from my favorite Mozart. By this time, I'm so impressed with MAH's warm tone and incredible dynamic control, I really enjoy this piece too. His sound is just impeccable (something I didn't understand from his YT videos) and his presence at the keyboard is so unassuming, I think it might be easy to underestimate him as a pianistic force. It did become evident at this point in the concert that some in audience were under-whelmed ... there were a vocal few and the rest rather lukewarm. Anyway ....
The Liszt Venezie e Napoli was next. Again, amazing sound, quiet clarity, so not-showy ... but when the Tarantella started, there was actually a gasp from the audience. I cannot even begin to express how fast he took those repeated notes. I'm shaking my head again in disbelief. It was maybe one of the only times I've ever just watched something with mouth agape. This has never been one of my favorite Liszt pieces, but I stood and cheered with everyone else when the roaring conclusion came thundering down. Truly awe-inspiring. And STILL no sweat!
We had a nice chat with some regulars during the intermission ... they seemed disappointed in the turnout. It was by no means full, but I would guess 900-1000 range.
The lights dimmed and the crowd hadn't even begun to still when MAH struck his first notes in the four Debussy preludes, bk II. His Debussy was really different ... I felt like he was philosophically underscoring the "new" techniques Claude brought to the table. Rapid dynamic changes, blurred pedal ... then stark stacatto. It was almost jarring in it's modernness. I guess when you have that much talent and technique at your disposal, nothing is really unachievable at the keyboard ... if you imagine it, you can do it. The fairies are good dancers stood out to me, just really really good.
Before starting his own Etudes, MAH announces that he'll be replacing the 'after Chopin' etude with a newer one entitled Menuetto. They were all really really great compositions, and ridiculously difficult does not need to be said. The theme of the etude inspired by queen Bernice of Egypt was beautifully touching ... I can't wait to play that one (it sounds barely doable). His LH arrangement of the Tschaikowsky Lullaby is so lushly beautiful ... I can't think anyone will ever have the LH control of tone needed to play it as beautifully as he did. My wife kept whispering, that's just one hand! in disbelief! The new menuetto is nice, I'd like to hear it a few more times to get a good opinion of it, but has some jazz chords in it... also strangely reminded me of Satie, dunno why. The last Etude was the thunderous Prelude/Fugue. And it's just amazing ... when the fugue starts thundering, I actually felt like looking around for the coming Apocalypse. This was really the only piece I felt he was stretching his abilities to play in the whole concert. And when he stood accept his deserved ovation, there was one (ONE!) bead of sweat on his forehead.
I didn't recognize the quietly pretty encore he played, but heard someone talking about Catoire in lobby later, so am assuming that must be it.
So, afterwards, we look for him ... look for stage door ... finally found it, and stood outside with some college kids for a while waiting for the master to appear, but had to give up finally for our 3hour drive home ... and Jenifer had a test @ 8am the next morning. She must really love me ... also, dunno why!
Fashion: He wore a dark, navy suit ... shiny, shiny black shoes ... white shirt, no tie ... black undershirt ... scruffy beard and no glasses. I must say, I kinda miss the nerd look on him. He is the SuperNerd, you know!