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Tuesday May 23, 2017
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Joel Hastings plays Chopin

 

continued

sense. It's music of incandescent banality, superficial profundity, and bone-deep vulgarity. It's music that, despite the best efforts of superhuman virtuosos with extraordinary charisma, hangs like a dead duck from the neck of Romantic music.

So when I say I wasn't looking forward to an all-Liszt recital, I mean I really wasn't looking forward to an all-Liszt recital. But what could I do? The pianist was a friend, and while I'd heard his disc — and it was bloody staggering — I'd never heard him live. I figured I'd check out the first half and leave at intermission. Forty-five minutes of Liszt would be more than enough for me.

Instead I stayed through the whole concert, because Joel Hastings's all-Liszt recital was absolutely stunning from the first note to the last. Hastings is a superhuman virtuoso with a massive sound and monumental technique. Hastings has extraordinary charisma that commands complete attention. But best of all, Hastings is a real musician, and his musicality makes an audience pay attention not to him but to the music he's playing.

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