Ralf Gothoni | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ralf Gothoni 

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Ralf Gothoni is an all-purpose musician who's been celebrated in Germany and his native Finland but is little known elsewhere. Now that he's won the Gilmore award--the richest prize in classical music--he's finally getting the exposure he deserves. Given every four years to a keyboardist, the Gilmore is doubly valuable for the North American concert gigs--like this one at Ravinia--that come with it. Also a composer, teacher, and conductor, Gothoni, who was in town last November to accompany baritone Jorma Hynninen, is a thoughtful performer who can show plenty of spark and spontaneity. He champions Finnish masters (he's recorded Sibelius's solo piano music for Ondine), but his repertory encompasses everyone from Haydn to Einojuhani Rautavaara, who's written cataclysmic-sounding piano concerti for him. In this recital he and violinist Mark Lubotsky will play sonatas by two masters from opposite ends of the stylistic spectrum: Mozart and Alfred Schnittke. Mozart's violin sonatas 25 and 28, which divide the thematic materials almost equally between the two instruments, are delectable, highlighted by a keen sense of drama. The First Violin Sonata by the Soviet avant-gardist Schnittke is anchored in serial technique yet relies on disparate elements for its quicksilver effects. His Second Sonata--one immense movement--is a quasi fantasia featuring crashing piano chords and violin glissandi. Both were dedicated to Lubotsky. Wednesday, 8 PM, Martin Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park; 728-4642.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Steve J. Sherman.

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