Audio Video Club of Atlanta
, February 2014
American pianist Andrew von Oeyen…is a frighteningly capable artist thus far in his early maturity…his understanding of musical values and sense of timing border on the phenomenal.
Von Oeyen shows not the slightest hesitation in meeting two of the most challenging works in the modern repertoire head-on. They are Claude Debussy’s Preludes, Book I and Three Movements from Petrushka by Igor Stravinsky, with Prelude and Antipodal Rag by the contemporary American composer David Newman as far-from-easy encores.
Andrew von Oeyen shows his prowess early on in the Preludes in the quasi-orchestral techniques Debussy employs in pieces as dissimilar as the exotic, languorous Danseuses de Delphes (temple dancers of Delphi) and the blustery Le vent dans la plaine (the wind on the plain). In Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir (sounds and perfumes swirl in the evening air) he gives the only convincing, as well as sensually appealing, performance I’ve ever heard.
The exception to Debussy’s watery depressiveness is La cathédrale engloutie (the submerged cathedral). The piece serves to explain why historic attempts to orchestrate the Preludes have been mostly confined to Book II and have been largely unsuccessful. Von Oeyen shows us the futility of such efforts, as Debussy’s piano preludes are already “symphonic” in concept. This piece is the crowning glory in the set, as Debussy uses all the resources of which the piano is capable…
As with Pictures at an Exhibition, Stravinsky’s Petrushka has enjoyed a vibrant life in both the symphony and the recital hall. The 3 Movements von Oeyen plays here are no mere transcription from the orchestral score, but a re-written and dramatically condensed version by Stravinsky that amounts to a piano tour de force. Keyboard jumps and bumps, polyrhythms, glassy glissandi, and tremolos add real bite to the folk-influenced themes. Through it all, von Oeyen does a fine job of characterizing Petrushka, the hapless puppet who meets a tragic fate at the end. The “chaser” here is Stravinsky’s saucy Piano Rag Music, a work I’d never liked before because other pianists had butchered it. In von Oeyen’s hands, it emerges in all its glory as an apotheosis of ragtime. © 2014 Audio Video Club of Atlanta Read complete review