BY PATRICK NEAS
Special to the Star
Melnikov, who is also a pilot, likes to take to the sky when he isn’t in the concert hall. Asked if there was any connection between flying and music, Melnikov replied “In one word, yes. Simply yes.” For his Kansas City debut, Melnikov has chosen a program that soars with virtuosity.
“What I tried to do is make a well-balanced, harmonized program,” he said. “I’m not usually fond of mainstream piano recitals, but since nobody knows me in Kansas City, I wanted to play music that shows my different sides.
“I’ve heard very good things about the Friends of Chamber Music, and I understand it’s one of the top series in the United States, with a knowledgeable and cultivated audience, so I am sure they will be familiar with all of these pieces.”
The works range from classical lyricism to stormy Russian tempestuousness. Melnikov will open the concert with “Drei Klavierstücke,” D. 946 (Three Piano Pieces) by Schubert.
“Schubert is probably as close to my most favorite composer as any,” he said. “For me, he’s definitely a desert island composer.” Melnikov found it difficult to put into words exactly why Schubert’s music is so important to him.
“It’s very, very few people in Western civilization who can adequately describe in words what they love about music. If you’re in love with a woman, you can’t always say why. But for me, Schubert has endless charm. You have the feeling that you have all the time in the world to enjoy it. No matter how long a piece by Schubert is, when it’s over you don’t realize how much time has passed.”
After Schubert, Melnikov will tackle one of the most technically demanding works for piano, the “Études Symphoniques,” Op. 13 by Schumann.
“It’s a bravura piece, but it has depth,” he said. “It’s more than just a brilliant surface. Basically, it’s one of the most important works in the Romantic repertoire and one of Schumann’s most important works. Books have been written about it.”
This year, the Friends of Chamber Music is featuring the music of Schumann, much of which still seems strange to audiences.
“Franz Liszt complained that audiences didn’t like Schumann’s music, that they weren’t capable of understanding it,” Melnikov said. “It’s uncompromising. It’s very intellectual and very intelligent, but he was also not afraid of being intimate and opening his heart and soul. But the ‘Etudes Symphoniques’ is accessible even to an unprepared audience.”
Melnikov will open the second half of his recital with the Fantasy in B Minor, Op. 28, composed by Scriabin in 1900 while he was a professor at the Moscow Conservatory.
“Nobody really does it,” Melnikov said. “It’s neither early nor late Scriabin. But it’s something that is not done very often, so I thought it would be nice to play with the more familiar pieces. As I say, it’s all about balance.”
Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 6 will conclude the program. Written in 1940, it’s one of Prokofiev’s three “War Sonatas.” Its percussive, anguished first movement sets the tone for a work written just before Adolf Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union.
“What the ‘Etude Symphoniques’ is to the 19th century, this sonata is to the 20th,” Melnikov said. “It’s simply a piece I like very much.”
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St.
Info: 816-561-9999 or ChamberMusic.org
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/02/16/4067423/pianist-alexander-melnikov-making.html#storylink=cpy