Sunday, January 22, 2012

Michael Brown: Beethoven, Chopin and Schubert with a Side of Snow

If you chickened out because of the weather or had other commitments on a busy weekend's calendar, you missed a wonderful performance by a young pianist who's just entering the difficult and often treacherous world of the touring classical musician.

Last night's performance by Michael Brown was one of the more memorable recitals I've attended in years, especially the way he was able to draw me in to this personal sound-world to forget I was sitting in a concert hall and not, say, somebody's living room listening to Schubert himself play for a handful of friends.

Normally, I don't write reviews - if I'm representing an organization through a blog, one could claim a conflict of interests and lose credibility with a steady stream of positive reviews so as not to offend, avoiding negative comments which would be considered bad marketing.

As Private Citizen Dick Strawser, I posted my review at Thoughts on a Train.

And feel free to offer your own comments about the performance here. What did you think?

After the concert, Michael told me he had just redesigned his web-site, so if you've found links from past posts not working any more, try this one. And you can also check out his blog or follow him on Twitter. There are audio clips of some of his performances and of some of his compositions here.

After music written between 1801 and 1826, he offered a brief encore - one of his own works, an homage to Aaron Copland written in 2007 and full of reminiscences of an influential voice, particularly Copland's wonderful 1941 sonata. I was amused that, after playing this entire program from memory, he walks out on stage carrying the piano's music rack (often removed in concert) so he could play his own piece with the score.

At the moment, he's working on a suite for solo cello for a friend who's to perform it in New York next month. As he tweeted this morning, "composing on Amtrak is the way to go these days."

Michael Brown at Friday's Soundscape
This photo was taken by Ya-Ting Chang at Friday afternoon's Soundscape presentation for students at Whitaker Center, part of Market Square Concerts' educational outreach program.

- Dick Strawser

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