Evgeni Bozhanov | Bennett-Gordon Hall, Ravinia Festival | Classical | Chicago Reader

Evgeni Bozhanov All Ages Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Fri., April 16, 8 p.m. 2010

Starting with the low bench that he travels with—affording him the hand position he finds essential for his sound—26-year-old Bulgarian pianist Evgeni Bozhanov is anything but conventional. Yet even his most questionably idiosyncratic performances are delivered with such incredible quality of sound, gorgeous and wonderfully varied, that they are difficult to resist—like a disjointed film that compels with the power of its visuals. The program opens with the imposing Busoni transcription of Bach's Organ Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C Major, BWV 564, followed by three works he performed at the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, where he was a finalist. Schubert's profoundly searching Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960, and Schumann's ever shifting Davidsbundlertanze present tremendous artistic challenges: balancing the writing, making it coherent, and doing it justice are so difficult; at the Cliburn Competition Bozhanov was better with the Schumann. These 18 short character pieces, which veer from impetuous to sublime, lend themselves to his probing approach and wide range of color. Last is a waltz from Gounod's opera Faust, as arranged and embellished by Franz Liszt into a finger-bending rollick. —Steve Langendorf


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