Peter Serkin | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Peter Serkin

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It's taken Peter Serkin a long time to emerge from the shadow of his pianist father. As the son of the late Rudolf Serkin (and the grandson of the great German violinist Adolf Busch), the young Peter had to compete with a legend. He wisely deflected unfavorable comparisons by focusing on the contemporary repertoire, first as a member of the chamber group Tashi and later as a solo act. By allowing himself some room to learn and mature, he's become a far more interesting keyboard artist at the still-tender age of 45, equally at ease with the classics and the moderns. Now his concert and recording career is busier than ever, highlighted a couple seasons ago by a recital tour of 11 new commissions. Serkin stops at Ravinia this week, a pleasant surprise as he subs for the ailing Alfred Brendel. Also a delight is his choice of Bach's D Minor Concerto, a fresh alternative to the crowd pleasers that dominate summer festivals. Among the greatest of Baroque concerti (and originally scored for the violin), the D Minor is a well-laid-out large-scale work. The piano part traverses a wide range of moods, though the prevailing one is of torment and anguish. If Serkin's interpretation is as thoughtful and eccentric as Glenn Gould's, then the audience is definitely in for a treat. James Levine will conduct Serkin and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The program also holds Brahms's Tragic Overture and Mahler's First Symphony, two CSO perennials. Tonight, 8 PM, pavilion, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park; 728-4642.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Regina Touhey.

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