Fort Worth — Eugen Indjic is not a name that most American piano fans know, although he started his career in Springfield, Mass. in 1956. He was 9 years old at the time. While attending Boston University, he appeared with the Boston Pops and debuted with the Boston Symphony in 1965. His career took off from there. He is currently the artist in residence with the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
On Saturday, he made a local appearance as the second recital in the PianoTexas Festival, in Texas Christian University’s PepsiCo Recital Hall.
Ironically, when his special artistry with the works of Chopin hit big with a recording of Mazurkas, no one knew it was his recording. In one of the strangest stories in the annals of classical music recordings, a woman named Joyce Hatto stole recordings of other artists, slowed them down a little or speeded them up without changing the pitch and, in 2007, issued them as her own performances. The Hatto recording of the Mazurkas created a sensation. Major critics lavished her with ecstatic reviews and many professional pianists listened in awe and called each other with the discovery.
It turned out that this amazing recording was actually made by Indjic, a pianist relatively unknown to an astounded public. His other recordings of the works of Chopin, including the two concerti, confirmed what we learned from Hattogate: Indjic is, perhaps, our greatest living interpreter of the works of Chopin.
Thus, PianoTexas’ presentation of Indjic in an all-Chopin recital was a rare opportunity. Alas, too few music lovers in the Metroplex got the message. However, those of us who were in the audience on Saturday evening were not disappointed.
He played four Mazurkas (from our first encounter with him) from Op. 30, the F sharp Barcarolle, the second sonata, and Ballades Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4. This was a big program that he played with exceptional artistry and a technique so secure that it vanished, leaving only the music—pristinely clear and sensitively phrased.
His dynamic range was equally impressive. Soft passages were barely audible, but when the music required it, he would explode with force while never overplaying the instrument.
The Sonata No. 2, Op. 35, was the highlight of his recital. He had a clear understanding of the overall architecture of the piece and knew a path through the musical thicket. He made sure that we were with him every step of the way until the very end.
The first movement had a sense of urgency and, even in the slower sections there was relaxation but no repose. In the second movement, that urgency turned to dark clouds and melancholia. The funeral march in the third movement was not a surprise, as it often is. In Indjic’s hands, it was the inevitable result of the first three movements. What was dreaded from the start had finally happened. The contrasting section came off as a privately uttered farewell that we were not meant to see. The march returned, but even more solemn than before.
The very fast passage at the octave that ends the sonata was played both incredibly softly and quickly. It has been called the wind through a graveyard or a ghostly whirlwind, but in this performance, it was more like the departure of the spirit of whatever, or whomever, it was we first feared for—then mourned and finally buried.
Two more relatively unknown, but equally distinguished, Chopin interpreters will play this coming Friday and Saturday evenings. Piotr Polecny will play some scherzi and preludes along with the third sonata. On Saturday, Dina Yoffe will contrast the set of 24 preludes of Chopin (Op. 28) with the set of 24 preludes by Alexander Scriabin (Op. 11). Both the distinctions and resemblances should make for a fascinating concert.
PianoTexas continues with the following concerts at TCU:
Distinguished Artist Recital Series:
- 7:30pm June 12: Piotr Paleczny
- 7:30pm June 13: Dina Yoffe
- 7:30pm June 19: Arie Vardi
- 7:30pm June 20: Dang Thai Son
- June 14: Young Artist Concerto Concert
- June 18: Teachers and Amateurs Concerto Concert
- June 21: Young Artist Concerto Concert