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A UNIQUE GENEROSITY
By Antoine Leboyer
GABRIELA MONTERO, piano
GENEVA, VICTORIA HALL, 05/24/2012
This was a recital of a unique, profoundly authentic, and gifted artist. Gabriela Montero has risen to prominence through her unique ability to improvise, but her uniqueness goes way beyond even this prodigious ability. In her fingers, the Ballades of Chopin became a story. No longer simply musical forms, they became real poems. The fluidity of the tempi served, above all, to create an atmosphere and to render the discourse more personal. Here, we were in the spirit of Cortot, searching for ways in which to make each note come alive beyond its place in the formal structure of the piece.
The technical facility of the Venezuelan pianist is equally unusual. In contrast to the vast majority of her numerous colleagues, she has enormous power of sound and never hesitates to play real fortissimos. Following the tradition of many Latin American artists, she possesses a rhythmic vitality which made the pieces from her own continent irresistible.
But without a doubt, the second half of the concert, dedicated to her own improvisations, is the most affecting. Gabriela Montero chats with the audience, asking them to provide her with a theme, which they must sing. The exchange is carried out with grace and complicity. Very naturally, two young girls murmured Papageno’s aria from The Magic Flute, which became the foundation of a fugue in the style of Bach. An older listener sang a theme from the Toreador’s aria, which became a piece full of Debussy-esque harmony. The theme form the first movement of Rachmaninov’s third piano concerto became immersed in the weighty chords of Mussorgsky, before emerging animated and clear. Gabriela Montero demonstrated exceptional mastery, and seeing such music created in front of your own eyes was an absolutely unique experience. Far from arrogant or exaggerated, this offering was given with a profound generosity. There are artists who want us to admire them, others who wallow in the profound emotions that they generate, and then there are those like Gabriela Montero, who go beyond themselves to communicate with their public.
This was the first recital in Geneva for Gabriela Montero. The Venezuelan pianist has become particularly well known in the USA over the past few years, where she resides, but her fame is not yet sufficient to fill Victoria Hall, which is such a pity. But we should not be mistaken, there are not many artists about whom it can truly be said that their talent borders on genius.