piano | Worldwide
Best New Artist
Before establishing his international reputation, Yehudi Menuhin often had the experience of listening to his elders tell him that he could not play certain concerti because of his youth. His rebuttal was actual performance; once these "experts" heard him perform the Brahms or Beethoven concerti, they abandoned their recommendations that he should stick to simpler Mozart fare. Had this brash wunderkind been a young pianist of today, he might very well have chosen the insanely difficult Concerto # 2 of Prokofieff, if only to hear the horror in his teachers' voices at the very thought of conquering this raw-boned and large-handed explosion. Brashness indeed is the key element of the piece; the composer expected that few other than himself would ever perform it. In that most unlikely of places, the extremely conservative conservatory, a splendid colt of a pianist dared to throw off her bit and run free with this wild stallion of a work, executing every grand gesture daringly and securely, every arpeggiated passage thrillingly. Even though there were some missed inner notes along the way, this performance was so exceptionally confident as to send sparks through the mostly student audience at Lincoln Center. A rare moment of heart-pounding electricity at a time in our collective American musical lives when risk-taking is viewed as slightly abnormal elicits from this reviewer only the highest of praise for this emerging artist. One wonders if Alicia Gabriela Martinez has come from Venezuela to study at Juilliard with high hopes of becoming a star-turn concert pianist. Often, students matriculate there for other, more grounded, reasons. Here's hoping that she has the dream and follows it to fruition. We, the audience, desperately need more adventurers like her.
Frederick L. Kirshnit, Concerto Net
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