With Contagious Romanticism, Jerome Rose Opens Mannes Keyboard Festival
The International Keyboard Institute and Festival is the biggest of Mannes College’s back-to-back schedule of summer programs. It runs for two full weeks, with master classes, lectures, demonstrations and recitals open to the public every day from 9 a.m. to about 10 p.m.
Audiences are usually packed more tightly into Mannes’s concert hall for the keyboard event than for the college’s other festivals (which examine Beethoven, contemporary music and the classical guitar). There is even an official T-shirt (for $20) in the lobby.
Jerome Rose, the festival’s founder and director, gave the opening recital on Sunday evening in a program calibrated to his strengths, which include the sonic heft, broad gestures and grand scale of Romanticism.
Even so, Mr. Rose began with two works from outside the Romantic repertory, which isn’t to say that he recognized such a distinction. He played Mozart’s Sonata in C minor (K. 457) as a full-fledged Romantic score with a big, strong tone that made its textures sound thicker than they are. With that tonal weight established, proportions of all kinds inevitably change. So while Mr. Rose’s dynamics were essentially those of the score, their effects was magnified to Lisztian proportions.
Paul Schoenfield’s “Intermezzo” (2002) is a graceful, slowly building rumination in a language so conservative that it could almost pass as a lost Chopin work. That was how Mr. Rose played it, and it was an approach that worked once you accepted that Mr. Schoenfield, always an eclectic composer, was intent on pursuing an unequivocally nostalgic notion here.
Mr. Rose closed the first half of the program with a thundering account of Schumann’s G minor Sonata (Op. 22) that put the music’s audacious outbursts into high relief, but didn’t skimp on its gentler qualities, like the singing melody line in the Adagio. Similar qualities — with a greater emphasis on poetry and lilting themes than on thunder, though there was some of that as well — enlivened the four Chopin Ballades, which Mr. Rose played after the intermission.