Jonathan Gilad | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Jonathan Gilad, who made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1996, when he was 15, has since performed around the globe, both in recital and as a soloist with major conductors. Last year at Orchestra Hall he gave a stunningly sensitive and thoughtful performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 23, displaying a superb tone and touch, and this Sunday he returns to give a recital of works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Liszt. Mozart's Sonata in C, K. 330, is unusual in that both the outer movements are in sonata form and both are energetic and playfully robust yet still delicate and elegant. The slow movement begins gracefully in a major key, but deeper emotions follow in the exquisitely sad middle section. By contrast, Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata is emotionally weighty right from the start. The slow introduction to the first movement--with its startlingly loud chords, uneven rhythms, and quiet melody that increases in volume and intensity--is simply heart-wrenching, and the adagio is one of Beethoven's most famous, its gorgeous melody and variations perfectly proportioned. Like Beethoven, Liszt was one of the most remarkable pianists of his day, and his Sonata in B Minor is one of his most significant compositions. It's physically demanding, like most of his music, but it's also a work of great depth, passion, and poetry. And it's a landmark in the history of piano music--a large-scale, single-movement sonata made up of small cells of material that are continuously reworked and transformed in character and mood. The beginning is suspenseful: slowly repeated octaves in the lower register gradually turn into a languorous descending scale, but without resolution. This all repeats before the piece suddenly takes off with an aggressive and rhythmically assertive theme, which later becomes a breathtaking fugue. The more lyrical second theme is alternately tender and grand, and the hymnlike sections and tranquil, introspective ending suggest the composer's great affinity for the spiritual. Sun 5/1, 3 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $15-$36.

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