John Anthony Cheek | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

John Anthony Cheek 

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For this solo recital John Anthony Cheek, a pianist with advanced degrees from Indiana University and the Manhattan School of Music who's prepped with Gilbert Kalish and Menahem Pressler, has selected five works that offer an informed survey of the ways modern experimentalists have extended the range of keyboard techniques since the 19th century. One such pioneer, Debussy, is represented by four of his etudes, which emphasize subtly contrasted sonorities achieved largely through the use of arpeggios. Stravinsky's Serenade in A, also a response to late Romanticism's fiercely extravagant gestures, conveys a warmth and simplicity that harks back to the Baroque. Of course by the middle of this century the preoccupation of some composers with unorthodox technique had elevated rule making over expressivity, and the result was works such as Mario Davidovsky's Synchronism no. 6 for Piano and Tape, the payoff of which lies in the soloist's virtuosity in coordinating his performance with pretaped materials. Similarly demanding--and methodical--is Berio's Sequenza IV, in which notes are piled on top of one another through the constant use of the piano's three pedals. By contrast, New York-based George Tsontakis doesn't pretend to be an intellectual heavyweight; his Bagatelle begins tentatively then melodically ebbs and flows. Monday, 5:30 PM, auditorium, Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State; 747-4740.

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