Virtuosic piano recital at the Intimate Hotel

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A small but enthusiastic audience recently welcomed the acclaimed Israeli pianist Boaz Sharon at a concert at the Intimate Hotel, located close to The Avenue Shopping Centre on Second Road.  Presented by D & M Music Studios in cooperation with Siam Ratchada Auditorium, the concert marked the first in a series of classical recitals that will be held in the hotel’s superb recital room.

Professor Sharon began his programme with a lively performance of Manuel de Falla’s ever-popular Ritual Fire Dance, which is a movement from the 1915 ballet El Amor Brujo.  It was made popular by the composer’s own piano arrangement and bears a slight resemblance to a piece by Rimsky-Korsakov about a bumble bee.

Boaz Sharon plays Schumann at the Intimate Hotel in Pattaya.

The recital continued with Schumann’s delightful suite of piano pieces entitled Kinderszenen which is probably better known by its English title, Scenes from Childhood.  Dating from 1840, it originally contained thirty pieces but the composer eventually whittled them down to just thirteen.  It was a beautiful performance of the work and an especially sensitive reading of the seventh and best-known piece, entitled Träumerei in which his thoughtful playing was notable for the very slow tempo and fine sense of control.  During the suite Boaz Sharon demonstrated his remarkable articulation, his wonderfully expansive dynamic range and compelling sense of phrasing and timing.

Born in Israel, Boaz Sharon is currently Professor of Piano and Chair of Piano at Boston University and Director of the Young Artists Piano Program at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute.  During the last couple of years he has given concerts in Seoul, New York City, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.  He is also Artistic Director of the Sichuan International Piano Festival in China.

Professor Sharon performed a fascinating piano arrangement of George Gershwin’s 1928 jazz-influenced symphonic poem, An American in Paris.  It’s one of the composer’s best-known works and the transparent piano arrangement provided an extraordinary insight into Gershwin’s complex harmony and musical language.  Boaz Sharon gave an intensely rhythmic performance of the challenging arrangement showing his brilliant pianistic skills and his ability to draw a full range of tone from the instrument.

The piano used for this recital was recently installed at the Intimate Hotel and it’s a fine Yamaha GB1 grand with excellent tone colour and a brilliant sound.  It seemed completely at home in the pleasantly dry acoustic of the recital room.

The second half of the concert featured two contrasting tangos, including one written by Stravinsky in 1940.  It doesn’t sound much like Stravinsky and doesn’t really sound much like a tango either but it allowed Boaz Sharon to demonstrate appropriately staccato and spiky, rhythmic playing.  The more well-known suave tango by Albeniz dates from fifty years earlier and Professor Sharon provided a reflective and compelling performance.

The bright tone quality of the Yamaha piano proved ideal for a performance of Prokofiev’s colourful Piano Sonata No. 6.  It’s the first of the so-called Three War Sonatas and dates from 1940.  It is not an easy work to play.  The strident first movement is characterized by some grinding dissonances and frequent changes of key which Boaz Sharon played with fine articulation and sense of bravura.  The march-like second movement sounded more typically Prokofiev and the performance of the third movement, a very slow dream-like waltz was both sensitive and finely controlled.  His highly competent reading of the last movement with its brilliant scampering main theme was virtuosic, and it made a thrilling end to a fascinating programme.