New York Concert Review Inc. - Sunday, July 17, 2022 - Written by Donald Isler

IKIF presents Martín García García in Review

Martín García García is an exciting young Spanish pianist who played the final recital at this year’s International Keyboard Institute and Festival, founded by one of his teachers, Jerome Rose. The First Prize winner of the Cleveland International Piano Competition, he has also won other prizes, such as at the Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw, and he has performed in solo recital and concerto appearances both here and in Europe. His playing evokes enthusiasm from his audience, and that is not hard to understand.

Mr. García is an excellent Mozart player! The first movement of the C minor Sonata, K. 457 was vigorous, yet nuanced and sensitive. The development section was dramatic, and the rather surprising quiet conclusion was effectively played. The slow movement worked well at a straight-forward tempo. Some of the fast runs tickled, and the coda was delicious! The last movement, a somewhat strange piece, had an improvisational feeling, forceful, yet with charm. Here Mr. García added some intriguing and delightful cadenzas.

With barely a pause after concluding the Mozart, Mr. García offered three Liszt works. He launched into the jarring minor ninths at the beginning of Funérailles. He played the theme in F minor slower than one sometimes hears it, but it worked very well his way. He really picked up steam and created a huge climax in the octave section before the “fading away into nothing” end of the piece. Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este was a beautiful picture, in sound, of the splashing fountain, with some feelings of nostalgia, yet also full-strength exuberance. The Valse-Impromptu, which concluded the first half, was playful and light-hearted, though occasionally thoughtful, and full of charm.

Mr. García certainly brought out the contrasts between the three Chopin Waltzes, Op. 34, which began the second half! I had never before heard the A-flat Waltz played so fast! Yet, it featured nice shadings, and good musician that he is, repeated phrases always came back in different dynamics the second time around. Similarly, I had never heard the A minor Waltz played so slowly, but found it totally convincing. The F major Waltz, the theme of which has always reminded me of a dog chasing its own tail, was very fast; playful, elegant, and puckish, with a lovely modulation into the D-flat major section.

The printed program concluded with the B minor Sonata of Chopin. The first movement is a particular masterpiece, full of both bravura and poetry. It’s difficult not to compare in one’s mind great performances one has heard of it. How does Mr. García’s interpretation compare? It’s already very good and will probably ripen further. One heard a real understanding of the idiom, and there were some very special moments.

Not surprisingly, the first section of the second movement sizzled. Mr. García’s ability to play slowly, convincingly, and very expressively was shown in the middle section of this movement, and in the third movement, the end of which was particularly lovely, and dreamy. Interestingly, he played the finale at just a moderate speed, making a convincing case for his approach, especially with his terrific finger work in the fast runs.

Mr. García generously went on to play four encores. The first one was the Schumann Fantasiestück, Op. 111, No. 2. The A-flat major main theme was deeply felt, and the C minor contrasting section had real passion. The coda was particularly beautiful. The second was the Waltz, Op. 38, of Scriabin. It was charming, bubbly, virtuosic, and occasionally bombastic. The third encore was the well-known C-sharp minor Waltz of Chopin, Op. 64, No. 2. It was stately and elegant. The final encore was Mompou’s Jeunes filles au jardin (Girls In the Garden). Somewhat reminiscent of the styles of Debussy and Satie, it was mostly laid-back and easy-going, yet with outbursts. This is a pianist I would like to hear again!

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