Virtuosity comes with its own perils. Compound that with prodigy, and you're in some tricky waters. Too often flash substitutes for feeling, spectacle for connection, hoopla for art. Twenty-six-year-old Hungarian pianist Adam Gyorgy flirted with all of the above at his recent Carnegie Hall recital, but, happily, the marks of a true artist won out.
His chops are amazing, and we got fireworks galore, barn burners such as Liszt's Rhapsody No. 2 delivered with articulate aplomb. And if some of the more pensive pieces, like Petri's transcription of Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze," didn't challenge the listener, it was all more than compensated for by Gyorgy's amazing reading of Chopin's never-ending journey that is the Balladein G minor.And if some of the more pensive pieces, like Petri's transcription of Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze," didn't challenge the listener, it was all more than compensated for by Gyorgy's amazing reading of Chopin's never-ending journey that is the Ballade in G minor.
Maybe it was the sight of a lone Steinway anchoring the most hallowed stage in music-making, but the entire, full if not packed house, must have felt that this lanky, dark-suit clad, close-cropped Magyar lad was channeling Horowitz -- and beyond. If only his repertoire had strayed further beyond the crowd-pleasers. But there is not doubt that Gyorgy knows how to make a 12-foot concert grand sing, how to make the line flow and swell. An army of programmed computers couldn't compete, nor an orchestra, and when Gyorgy's in full throttle, he could even give Pink Floyd a run for the money. He knows how to fill a room with music -- and passion.
I, however, for one would have loved to hear some more pared down pieces. Some Debussy, some Satie? He took some risks, which I think is great, especially by starting out on an improvisational fantasia no doubt intended to warm up himself, the crowd, the room. But, although this was alluded to in the program, it was buried. What emerged was something too much like hotel lounge music, or Muzak. And when he dipped into Keith Jarrett's "My Song," well, especially considering that Jarrett has graced the very stage with the very tune (and will do again in January, NOT TO BE MISSED!), he was swinging for the fences. All fine and well, but a strange opener. Maybe he should have announced it? Nevertheless, at twenty-six, and with the artistic and technical skills that he owns, anyone interested in music that combines beautiful and serious is in for a long, lucky relationship with this extraordinary man.
On a totally irrelevant point, but one that would be apropos for a showman of Gyorgy's potential, his "styling" could be a bit, how shall one say it, hipper? Edgier? Maybe long, flowing Lisztian locks and a velvet suit? A shaved head and funky glasses? This guy could bring droves of serious listeners into the classical music world, he has rock star potential. Maybe his management should consider this and let his repertoire free? Just a thought. - Ken Krimstein
Mr. Krimstein is a writer, cartoonist, father, and grump who lives in New York City. So there.