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Feltsman fires up audience with exuberant encore

VLADIMIR FELTSMAN

Concert of works for piano by Mozart,

Messiaen and Mussorgsky.

Presented by the Wang Celebrity Series.

Symphony Hall, February 10.

PAUL MARELYN

With Judith Gordon.

Concert of works for cello and piano by

Beethoven, Schubert,

Shostakovich and Martinu.

Jordan Hall, February 9.

By JONATHAN RICHMOND

ONE THING'S FOR CERTAIN: Vladya sure knows how to cut a good encore. Vladimir Feltsman brought Friday night's Symphony Hall concert to a close with first an arrangement by Ziloti of Bach's Prelude in B minor, giving it a rhapsodic, lullaby-gentle performance. Then, to make sure the audience was fired up to encounter the cold Boston night, he gave an account of the Schubert 'Ecossaise packed with exuberance and wit.

The concert had begun with a troubled performance of Mozart's Fantasy in C minor. Is it de rigueur for Russian-trained musicians to play Mozart as if it was Tchaikovsky? Feltsman went at an extraordinarily slow place, making of the piece a heavily-romantic work. Certain phrases did have a deep-felt expressiveness to them, but it was not Mozartean and misplaced.

Things looked up tremendously for three excerpts from Messiaen's "Vingt regards sus l'enfant Jesus." The clarity of Feltsman's performance, his rhythmic intensity and brilliance of coloration brought these pieces to life in a powerful way: there was throughout a feeling of complexity within the music, but focus in its delivery.

The official program ended with an exciting Pictures at an Exhibition. The clarity of Feltsman's powerful technique again assisted him in painting in the details in a telling way; he showed variety too, and made natural transitions from brighter to deeper colors, conjuring up vivid images as well as showing a richly lyrical side.

The Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks was chirpily played with a nice sense of humor; the Two Polish Jews were boldly outlined. Yet there was drama as well as a contemplative side to Baba Yaga, and a feeling of spaciousness and grandeur to the closing Bogatyr Gate of Kiev. All was done with a keen sense of timing, making this a tour of works varied in their selection, but all put on display as great art.

stars

PAUL MARELYN'S TRULY GREAT performance last Thursday night was of the Shostakovich Sonata in D minor, Op. 40. This was a psychologically-riveting interpretation, as close as could be to the pulse of the music and of such caliber as to deserve putting on record.

Make no mistake, this is a disturbing and altogether spaced-out piece of music. And Marelyn showed an ability to illuminate the darker side of things, his sensitive bowing seeking and displaying each detail. His tone had a deep and poignant lyricism that was spellbinding; his technique was so secure that the listener did not become aware of it: Marelyn led us to experience the musical content directly.

The second movement Allegro pushed itself forward with a driving ferocity; the thick-cut rhythms jumped out and fastened themselves magnetically. The Largo brought with it a lonely-sounding sweetness, and a new perspective within each sweep of the bow. The movement ended on an exceptional note of beauty, leaving the listener off-guard, unprotected from the tension and drama that pervaded every measure of the closing Allegro. A magnificent performance: well done.

The other works on offer were well-played, if not done at the same level as the Shostakovich. Beethoven's Sonata in G minor, Op. 5, No. 2 was given a probing reading, with a nicely upbeat Rondo: Allegro. And Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata was played with care. But although the Allegretto did have an inviting singing quality to it, the piece as a whole would have benefited from more warmth. Judith Gordon proved to be an able accompanist throughout the concert.

The concert ended with Martinu's Variations on a Theme of Rossini. Following on the Shostakovich, Marelyn decided to pull his socks up, when in fact he should have been letting his hair down. There was plenty of virtuosity to his performance, but there was an absence of humor. Marelyn is obviously a rather serious person, and his insights into the more profound corners of the musical literature can be devastating. But he needs to learn, where appropriate, to make his music laugh, too.