Sunday, May 24, 2009

Michail Lifits

What is it with the second slot of the afternoon sessions? I liked the performances in that slot in previous days (Stephen Beus, Di Wu), and the same holds true for this German pianist of Uzbek descent. He played only two pieces, Mozart's Sonata in D major (K. 311) and Schumann's Fantaisie, and the constant in both of those were Lifits' clarity, lucidity, intelligence, and a beautiful burnished tone. He didn't even allow the cell phone going off in the slow movement of the Mozart to distract him. However, the real glory of his performance was the sprawling Schumann work, which he played with great emotional fervor without losing the melody amid the thickets of bass notes. This complex work can fall apart in the wrong hands, but Lifits led the audience through it without ever losing the thread. This is one pianist who doesn't need a conventional showpiece to display what he can do.

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