Dallas — In the lovely home of Richard and Enika Schulze, a small group of music lovers gathered to hear a weighty program of works tied together by the evening’s theme, “Everlasting Romances of the Centuries,” as part of the Blue Candlelight Music Series. While this fanciful theme might suggest a syrupy sweet collection of the 19th century’s greatest hits, a serious and thoughtful performance of both familiar and unknown pieces worked well to create a satisfying concert experience.
The lights in the first half of the recital were turned down enough to see little more than a dark figure at the piano in the corner of the room. Some darkness in a concert can help accentuate the purely musical aspects of a performance. In this case, the glow of Deljavan’s music making provided plenty of light to see.
For the Domenico Scarlatti Sonata in C major, K 132, Deljavan constructed a radiant arrangement of symmetry in conjunction with brief binary structure. His tone was easy to fall in love with as it allowed us to see beyond any of the physical characteristics of the room or the pianist. Guiding the listener through the graduated levels of harmonic tension, his color changed to give each of these subtle shifts a new spatial awareness and motion. One wished that the piece lasted a bit longer, but it was just enough to catch the audience and prepare them for the remainder of the performance.
From this piece, he proceeded immediately to Robert Schumann’s Fantasie in C major, Op.17. Conceptually, he used same C major feel he gave the audience in the Scarlatti; it was bright but not forceful. So many times, the opening measures of this work have been abused by playing at maximum volume. Deljavan could easily have blasted the audience with sound, but he chose instead to emit a color. This was a color with purpose and significance. Throughout the loose sonata structure, this sound was used at important musical events in the first section as well as in the rest of the piece in contrast with an assortment of almost orchestral sounds. This can be a long, difficult work for the listener but tonight seemed only moments in length.
The end of the second section is legendary in its difficult jumps with both hands in contrary motion. No live performance taken at full tempo is ever note-perfect. Deljavan was brave to take the tempo he used. Although he missed a couple of his targets, the emotional thrust was right on.
Throughout, he took the music the same way an actor takes on a role. More than simply knowing the score inside and out, he discovered a motivation for the plot and executed a plan to convince the audience of his intentions.
After intermission, we heard an interesting 21st-century work. Young Italian composer Letizia Michielon’s Gesang der Welt, Hommage à A. Schopenhauer et R. Schumann, F. Chopin is atmospheric with brief allusions to early nineteenth century gestural shifts in mood and meaning. Deljavan was sensitive to the needs of this work, especially viewed in the context of the evening’s theme.
The program ended with a performance of the Op.10 ètudes of Frédéric Chopin. Deljavan convincingly navigated the innumerable difficulties of this set with a capable technique. As can often happen when performing a lengthy and technical group such as this, a few memory slips occurred in a couple of the slower ètudes. However, the performance was finished and brilliant, constantly seeking out interesting variations of color and inner voices.
The room in which this performance took place was the type that accumulates sound as it bounces off three or four hard surfaces before disappearing. The audience was at the mercy of a beautiful yet powerful instrument which could easily be used to produce that acoustic wash of noise one hears when too many sounds are trying to fit into the ear at once. In this case, however, the sonic painter, Deljavan, created a striking landscape full of variety and nuance.
In response to a deserved standing ovation, he concluded the evening with a sensitive performance a Chopin mazurka and an ètude from the other large set, Op. 25.