Pasatiempo - - Scaled-down Force - Amy He­garty

Pi­anist Adam Neiman

is no stranger to the Santa Fe area. His first ap­pear­ance here was al­most a decade ago, with the Cham­ber Or­ches­tra of Al­bu­querque, fol­lowed by a num­ber of per­for­mances for the Santa Fe Con­cert As­so­ci­a­tion, in­clud­ing a recital in April. On Satur­day, Nov. 6, he per­forms the quin­tet ver­sion of Chopin’s Pi­ano Con­certo in E Mi­nor with the cham­ber en­sem­ble Con­cer­tante in his sec­ond ap­pear­ance for the Los Alamos Con­cert As­so­ci­a­tion.

“I love play­ing Chopin. I play a great deal of his mu­sic,” Neiman said. “And I love this ar­range­ment of this piece. It gives the mu­sic a level of in­ti­macy and flex­i­bil­ity that’s very hard to achieve with a full or­ches­tra.” In­deed, given what Neiman refers to as the del­i­cate na­ture of the piece, he rel­ishes the chance to present this work in the com­poser’s scaled­down set­ting. “The cham­ber ver­sion al­lows for the soloist to work di­rectly with the play­ers rather than through the medium of the con­duc­tor. Also, the bal­ance of the pi­ano and the en­sem­ble is so much eas­ier to main­tain when the pi­anist doesn’t have to project over a large num­ber of play­ers.”

Neiman is well versed in the re­quire­ments of per­form­ing with large mu­si­cal forces, hav­ing ap­peared as a soloist with the Chicago, Hous­ton, St. Louis, and San Fran­cisco sym­phony orches­tras, among many oth­ers. His ca­reer, which be­gan at age 11 with a per­for­mance of Mozart’s Pi­ano Con­certo No. 23 at Los An­ge­les’ Royce Hall, has taken him to most of the coun­try’s ma­jor cities and con­cert halls, as well as to France, Ger­many, Italy, and Ja­pan. His vir­tu­os­ity has earned him many hon­ors: he is the youngest per­son to win the Gilmore Young Artist Award (in 1995), and he twice won the Juil­liard School’s Gina Bachauer In­ter­na­tional Pi­ano Com­pe­ti­tion. In 1999, he re­ceived both the Avery Fisher Ca­reer Grant and the Ru­bin­stein Award (given by Juil­liard to the most promis­ing grad­u­ate).

In ad­di­tion to his solo work, Neiman is known as an avid cham­ber mu­si­cian. He be­came a mem­ber of Lin­coln Cen­ter’s Cham­ber Mu­sic So­ci­ety Two pro­gram in 2004, and he is a found­ing mem­ber of the Corinthian Trio, which in­cludes vi­o­lin­ist Ste­fan Milenkovich and cel­list Ani Az­navoo­rian. His pre­vi­ous per­for­mance for the Los Alamos Con­cert As­so­ci­a­tion, in 2007, was with flutist Eugenia Zukerman and vi­o­lin­ist Gary Levin­son as Trio Virtuosi. “There’s a cer­tain level of in­ti­macy in cham­ber play­ing,” Neiman said. With re­gard to New York-based Con­cer­tante — which is known for per­form­ing tra­di­tional reper­toire as well as ad­ven­tur­ous con­tem­po­rary works — he said that he has the ut­most re­spect for his fre­quent col­lab­o­ra­tors. “I’ve played with Con­cer­tante many times. It’s a very tight-knit en­sem­ble with a long his­tory, and the mu­si­cians are some of the best string play­ers in the coun­try. Their in­ter­pre­ta­tions are so well formed and also very pol­ished.”

In the first half of Satur­day’s con­cert, Con­cer­tante, which com­prises six string play­ers, per­forms Richard Strauss’ Capric­cio and Dvorˇák’s String Sex­tet in A Ma­jor. Af­ter in­ter­mis­sion, Neiman joins the group in a quin­tet set­ting — two vi­o­lins, vi­ola, cello, and bass — for the Chopin piece. “The pro­gram for this con­cert came from Con­cer­tante,” Neiman said. “I brought the idea of per­form­ing the Chopin con­certo to them when I men­tioned that I’d played it in the past. They were in­ter­ested ... that 2010 is Chopin’s bi­cen­ten­nial year.”

Chopin wrote this piece when he was about 20 years old. “He wrote it as a tool to dis­play his vir­tu­osic tal­ent as a pi­anist,” Neiman said. Al­though the work was writ­ten to be per­formed with a full or­ches­tra, this in­ti­mate set­ting per­haps suited the com­poser best, the pi­anist said. “Chopin cre­ated this cham­ber ver­sion be­cause it was very ex­pen­sive to per­form in a large-scale for­mat; he had to pay for the mu­si­cians, the hall, et cetera. He per­formed the work with a full or­ches­tra only once.”

Neiman ac­knowl­edged that you lose a bit of the power of the or­ches­tra when you play with a cham­ber en­sem­ble (“All the winds’ lines get put into string parts, for ex­am­ple”), but he en­joys pre­sent­ing this quin­tet ver­sion to a new au­di­ence. “This piece is still very, very beau­ti­ful in its cham­ber ver­sion.”

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