Ian Hominick | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Ian Hominick

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The extraordinary pyrotechnics of 19th-century keyboardist Sigismond Thalberg put him in the exalted company of Franz Liszt, at least according to accounts at the time. But though widely popular, this Swiss-born Austrian virtuoso wasn't a charismatic dazzler like Liszt; his stage presence was more elegant and subdued and his musicianship more subtle. As with many keyboard performers of his generation, Thalberg wrote compositions that made the most of his own playing style and personality. His considerable output reputedly doesn't measure up to that of Mendelssohn, Chopin, or even Liszt; many of his works were deemed too derivative or gushy or technique-driven. But whether this judgment is accurate is hard to tell nowadays, since Thalberg has not been part of the mainstream repertoire for decades. A young pianist named Ian Hominick, who teaches at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, has made it his mission to revive Thalberg's reputation. At this recital, part of the Harold Washington Library's "Chautauqua-Chicago" series, he's slated to perform several nocturnes and a scherzo by Thalberg. The big piece on the program is the Grande Sonata in C Minor, said to rival Liszt's Sonata in B Minor in scope and difficulty. Thalberg, by the way, played to capacity crowds in Chicago during a North American tour from 1856 to 1858; he got rave reviews. Tuesday, 5:30 PM, auditorium, Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State; 747-4740.

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