Fazil Say | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

One of the most striking elements of Maxim Vengerov's 2004 recital was his choice of pianist, the fiery, technically brilliant Fazil Say. At times he was too much--too much volume, too much physical motion--but he displayed intelligence, musicality, a vast tonal palette, a willingness to take risks, and the rare ability to get big, rich sounds from the keyboard. In his recording of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata he brings an exhilarating energy to the opening (even if it's a little too fast in places) and warmth and elegance to the adagio and the gloriously delicate theme of the last movement's rondo. Occasionally a note is harsh, but he brings out the work's improvisatory character in a way I've never heard before, and the end is pure thunder, calling to mind Beethoven sitting on the floor, playing his piano with the legs sawed off so he could feel the vibrations. For this concert, his Chicago recital debut, Say will perform another spectacular Beethoven sonata, the Tempest, as well as Liszt's dramatic Sonata in B Minor. He'll also play two Bach organ works, one arranged by Liszt, the other by Say himself. You may not always agree with what he does, but you might be thrilled anyway. Say, who's also a composer, will give a free informal lecture and concert at 5 PM on Saturday in Northwestern University's Lutkin Hall; see listings for more information. a 3 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $15-$38.

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