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Concert review: Eclectic and riotous evening by Toros Can

Published on Mar 30, 2014 8:34 AM

For an Islamic nation, Turkey has produced a surprising number of high level Western classical musicians. This may be attributed to its progressive, open-minded Euro-leaning culture over the decades and the pioneering work by German composer-pedagogue Paul Hindemith during the 1930s.

Just sticking to pianists, one might already know of Idil Biret, Fazil Say and Ozgur Aydin. Now meet Toros Can, a Yale graduate, who gave one of the most unusually eclectic piano recitals in memory here at the Alliance Francaise on Saturday. Revealing very catholic tastes, his two-hour recital traversed from traditional classical repertoire to the musical equivalent of pop art.

Beginning with Schubert's Sonata (D.485), the longer of two great sonatas in A minor, Can tapped into the Austrian's world of the Lieder (art song). Within its four movements, he freed a wellspring of melancholy and wistfulness, translated as darkly shaded chords and no little lyricism. By not playing repeats, he kept the narrative short-winded, and in the excitable final Rondo, the dramatics lifted the mood even if unspoken tragedy was the underlying tenor.

Like many American-trained musicians, Can spoke engagingly to a small but receptive audience. The second half, in his own words, was "when the fun begins". There were two fugal works, but neither by J.S.Bach. Karol Szymanowski's Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor was thick with lush dissonances, but the contrapuntal lines were handled with great clarity.

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