The Kauffman Center was built to showcase world-class talent and that’s just what Park University provided with their “Virtuosos of the International Center for Music” program, featuring renowned alumni and faculty for the concert Wednesday in Helzberg Hall.
Internationally acclaimed pianist Behzod Abduraimov, graduate of ICM and current artist-in-residence, started the show with the Ferruccio Busoni arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. With the pipes of the Casavant organ looming over the stage, this iconic piece for organ seemed an odd choice but Abduraimov’s signature dynamism and muscular, bombastic attack nevertheless revealed the clarity of pristine and precise playing.
He balanced the Bach with Franz Schubert’s “Moments Musicaux,” No. 2 Andantino in A flat major, with a soulful, lingering approach, quietly captivating.
His final work was a thrilling and wonderfully ridiculous Franz List/Vladimir Horowitz piano arrangement of Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre,” ridiculous in the sense of the unbridled glee of an entire orchestra packed into pianistic pyrotechnics, indicating here that Abduraimov’s dramatic sense is as well honed as his technical abilities.
ICM alumnus David Razynski, currently concertmaster for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, performed Béla Bartòk’s Violin Rhapsody No. 1 with pianist and ICM faculty member Lolita Lisovskaya-Sayevich. It was a bold, centered performance, full of character, from aggressive to sweet to earthy, though a heavy touch on piano obscured subtle moments of pizzicato.
ICM artistic director Stanislav Ioudenitch joined Lisovskaya-Sayevich for the two piano version of Maurice Ravel’s “La Valse,” a wonderfully colored, beautifully nuanced work. Their performance was well matched, the emerging inklings of melody developing into a sort of wild carnival with piercing, forceful statements against the lovely rush of glissandi.
Ravel also supplied the evening’s finale with his Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello in A minor, performed by Ioudenitch, violinist Ben Sayevich and cellist Daniel Veis, all faculty at ICM. Again, the swiftly changing character and timbral nuance made for an exciting selection, especially in the tension of the held harmonics by Sayevich and the snappy rattle of pizzicato from Veis.
It was Ioudenitch’s stripped down treatment of the third movement, though, the melody laid bare, then warmly blended with the strings, that impressed the most, with those final steady and solemn tones.
When the powers-that-be titled this program “Virtuosos” they weren’t kidding around. The performances brought about multiple standing ovations and an outright burst of enthusiasm after each piece.