Vladimir Feltsman | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Vladimir Feltsman 

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Pianist Vladimir Feltsman, born and trained in Moscow, emigrated to the United States in 1987, but he didn't bring the unbridled Russian style with him. The cerebral Feltsman is best known for his Bach, and his program here opens with the English Suite no. 2 in A Minor, a mostly buoyant precursor to the better-developed partitas. Feltsman plays Bach with more clarity than emotion, eschewing the romantic approach of Barenboim or Argerich. Beethoven's beloved Sonata no. 8 in C Minor, op. 13 (Pathetique) follows. C minor was a heroic key for Beethoven, and there is already struggle in this early work as he begins to push the piano's expressive capabilities. The remainder of the program is devoted to Chopin's four ballades. Emulating the dramatic narratives in 19th-century literary ballads, the writing is among the composer's richest, bursting with contrast and invention. In this music one wishes for more abandon in Feltsman's playing. a 8 PM, Martin Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook, Highland Park, 847-266-5100, $10-$50. --Steve Langendorf

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