Nakamatsu Doesn’t Disappoint

CHAUTAUQUA – A full house audience at Elizabeth Lenna Hall abandoned one of the most beautiful afternoons of the summer on Tuesday, to enjoy a concert by concert pianist Jon Nakamatsu.

The concert was sponsored by the Chautauqua Women’s Club, as a fundraiser to support their annual scholarships for music students.

Nakamatsu is an internationally celebrated musician, who regularly performs with the world’s major symphony orchestras and in solo recitals at the major concert halls, since his 1997 Gold Medal-winning performance in the Van Cliburn Piano Competition.

Tuesday’s concert was entirely from the Romantic and Proto-Romantic periods in the early 19th Centuries. His playing demonstrated both technical genius, tossing off the knuckle-busting requirements of some of the most difficult music from the period, and sensitive interpretive skills, as well.

He began his concert with two contrasting Impromptus by Franz Schubert. Number 3, in G-Flat Major is the classic, suffering, sighing poetic work from the period, while No. 2, in E-Flat Major uses every note on the keyboard, at least twice, within the first few moments.

There were two works by Robert Schumann on the program. The first, ”Papillons, Op. 2,” is known to have been an early version of the second, the well-known ”Carnival, Opus 9.” Nakamatsu, delighting in being informally dressed and in the informal atmosphere of the concert, spoke casually to his audience, explaining how his second Schumann work had grown out of the first, and how both works are like a complex word puzzle, with nearly every note intended to evoke one of the composer’s friends or lovers, or someone from his life, or else his two alter egos: Eusebius, who was his shy, internalized self, and Forestan, the outgoing charmer whom he wished to be, but usually was not. The comment that ”Estrella,” the movement dedicated to the composer’s first fiancee whom he had left for his wife, Clara, lasted only 20 seconds, got a major laugh from the audience.

Between the two, he performed Beethoven’s ”Sonata in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2,” which is the famed ”Moonlight Sonata,” claimed by everyone but the composer to evoke rippling waters on the surface of Lake Geneva, with moonlight sparkling and giving a magic quality to everything.

The audience was enthusiastic about all his choices, rising in ovations for virtually everything he played. His thrilling encore, by Chopin brought the crowd back to its feet and ended the concert with pyrotechnics.