There are any number of ways you could attempt to explain what makes Canada’s leading living pianist Marc-André Hamelin special.
Meyers floated in, 1741 “Vieuxtemps” del Gesù in hand, wearing a voluminous gown in a soft black, its overlaid geometric pattern a seeming nod to the hall’s distinctive woodwork. Vieaux, also in black, took his seat and with a quick smile between them, they jumped into the music. An arrangement of Arcangelo Corelli’s Sonata in D minor, Op. 5, No. 12, “La Folia,” with variations headed the program. Fleet fingerwork in both instruments marked the players as virtuosos, but the variations that showcased the artists at their best allowed Vieaux to indulge in a little head bobbing, as he navigated his guitar with astonishing ease, and Meyers to pull a sultry voice from her del Gesù.
Marc-André Hamelin has been a regular visitor to San Francisco for some time. Yet, until Sunday’s concert as part of the San Francisco Symphony’s “Great Performers Series,” he had not given a solo recital in Davies Symphony Hall. With San Francisco’s biggest concert stage all to himself, he made a case for being one of the greatest artists of today.
Julian Schwarz had a lot to celebrate on Friday night. The American-born cellist played a recital at the Austrian Embassy, presented by the Embassy Series, bringing together composers associated with the city of Vienna. In several amiable turns at the microphone between pieces, Schwarz explained that since his last performance here, in 2015, he had become an Austrian citizen and was now engaged to Marika Bournaki, the pianist sharing the stage with him.
“A Happy Excursion” had a fitting companion in Tchaikovsky’s emotive “Pathétique” Symphony. The [New York] Philharmonic musicians can probably play this overprogrammed piece in their sleep; in the past, it has occasionally felt as if they were doing just that. But under Mr. Yu’s baton, they summoned surprising extremes, leavened occasionally with the brisk lightness of a Tchaikovsky ballet.
Nicolas Namoradze is a pianist with a lot to say. And he likes to say it softly.
The top-prize winner of the 2018 Honens International Piano Competition in Calgary, Alberta, made an impressive New York recital debut Sunday night at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall with an unconventional program of (in this order) Scriabin, Bach, Schumann, and his own compositions.