Friday, November 17, 2017

Ensemble Connect Performs Brahms and Dvořák

On Tuesday evening I visited Juilliard's Paul Hall to hear a chamber recital given by Ensemble Connect (formerly the ACJW Ensemble), the fellowship program jointly sponsored by Juilliard, Carnegie Hall, and the NYC Department of Education.  On this occasion, the group focused on nineteenth century Classical Romanticism and presented two works by its foremost proponents, Brahms and Dvořák.  Perhaps to add more variety to the program, the ensemble opened with a short piece by contemporary composer Stephen Hartke.

It's difficult to adequately describe in words Hartke's intiguingly entitled The Horse with the Lavender Eye (1997) for violin, clarinet and piano.  This may be at least in part due to the the sources of inspiration for each of the four movements - "Music of the Left," "The Servant of Two Masters," "Waltzing at the Abyss," and "Cancel My Rumba Lesson."  According to Hartke's website, the movements derive from "Carlo Goldoni to Japanese court music to the cartoonist R. Crumb, as well as 19th century Brazilian novelist Machado de Assis and Looney Tunes."  As Hartke writes:
"The connective thread of all these images began to dawn on me only in the midst of composing the work: all the movements have to do in one way or another with a sense of being off-balance -- playing music with only one side of the body; being caught between insistent and conflicting demands; dancing dangerously close to a precipice, and only narrowly avoiding tumbling in; and, finally, not really being able to dance the rumba at all."
For the most part, Hartke was surprisingly successful in interweaving these disparate strands into a cohesive whole even though the music was largely atonal and filled with dissonance.  It also required that the musicians master extremely unusual techniques as when the violinist, with left hand held behind her back, plucked the strings with her right hand while keeping the instrument tucked tightly under her chin.  It was only in the final movement's coda that the music regained its balance with a melodic tonality.

The next work was Brahms's Trio in E-flat Major for Violin, Horn, and Piano, Op. 40 (1865, rev. 1891).  This work marks a turning point in the composer's career, and not only for its unusual instrumentation.  Brahms was 32 years old at the time he wrote the piece and at the exact midpoint of his life.  I think it's fair to hold that in this work Brahms was bidding farewell to his youth with one last backward glance, an idea supported by the trio's elegiac character.  The composer's mother had died in the same year that Brahms wrote the trio, and there are allusions scattered throughout that refer to her passing as well as to his own youth.  For one thing, Brahms had studied the natural horn in boyhood and it's significant that he specified the use of that instrument here rather than the valve horn that had already been in common use for some thirty years.  Beyond its connection to Brahms's childhood, the waldhorn has a more mellow tone tinged with a hint of sadness that makes it appropriate for a memorial work.  The sorrow Brahms felt for his late mother can most clearly be heard in the third movement, marked adagio mesto, that is among the most poignant slow movements he ever composed.  As if this marking were not enough to indicate the composer was here thinking of his mother, he quotes in this same movement the folk song Dort in den Weiden steht ein Haus ("There in the Willows Stands a House") that his mother had taught him many years before.  Still another link to the past is the anachronistic ordering of the movements slow-fast-slow-fast in the tradition of the Baroque sonata da chiesa.  All these elements combine to make the horn trio unique in Brahms's oeuvre.  He didn't compose another chamber piece after this (not counting any drafts he may have destroyed in the interim because they did not measure up to his high standards) for the next eight years.

After intermission, the recital concluded with a performance of Dvořák's String Quintet No. 2 in G major, Op. 77 (1875), known as the "Double Bass" for its distinctive instrumentation in which a bass was added to the traditional string quartet in order to achieve a more pronounced sonority in the lower register. Despite its deceptively high opus number (it was originally published as the Op. 18), the quintet is a relatively early work composed before Dvořák had come to the attention of Brahms and Hanslick in 1877 and before having been launched on an international career. Originally written as a submission to a local competition, which it easily won, the piece went unperformed for a number of years until Dvořák, whose work was by then highly popular, finally sent it to his publisher Simrock. As such, the quintet provides an excellent demonstration of the composer's early style as he moved away from the influence of Wagner's music and began finding his own voice. It's a remarkably cohesive work and one that deserves a more prominent place in the chamber repertoire. The present performance was notable for its inclusion of the slow intemezzo movement that Dvořák had originally removed from fear the work would be too long and later adapted as his Nocturne for Strings, Op. 40.

I had only the day before heard Dvořák's String Sextet in A major, Op. 48 (1878) for two violins, two violas and two cellos, and it was interesting to compare these two string works written only three years apart.  In the interim, of course, Dvořák had won the Austria prize and attained international fame.  One can accordingly detect in the sextet a new found self confidence and a more mature style.  Certainly, in the later work the composer showed greater willingness to move beyond his German models and embrace his own country's folk heritage.

I've attended recitals given by the Ensemble Connect for many years, both at Juilliard and at Weill Recital Hall, and have always been impressed by the high level of musicianship demonstrated by its members.  One problem, though, is that the program lasts only two years, at which time there's a complete turnover in membership.  I think it's very difficult for any chamber ensemble to establish a distinctive sound in so short a space of time.  It's also somewhat disconcerting to an audience who have become used to hearing music performed by one particular group of musicians to abruptly find themselves faced with an entirely new cast of characters.  The discontinuity can be unsettling.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Jupiter Players Perform: Kalliwoda, Schumann and Dvořák

On Monday afternoon I went to hear another Jupiter Players performance at Good Shepherd church on West 66th Street.  The program, entitled Stars in Prague, featured the works of three composers - Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda, Schumann and Dvořák - all of whom had some association with the city, although in the case of Schumann the connection was very slight indeed.

The recital opened with Kalliwoda's Morceau de Salon, Op. 229 (1859) for clarinet and piano.  Kalliwoda (actually Jan Křtitel Václav Kalivoda in the original Czech) is another of those composers whose music the Jupiter Players specialize in performing, that is, works by individuals who were prominent during their own lifetimes and bona fide members of the musical establishment but who after their deaths were immediately consigned to oblivion and their music forgotten.  After having listened to the present piece, I don't feel Kalliwoda was done any great injustice.  This short work was mildly entertaining but, as the title would indicate, nothing more than salon music.  It was written several years after the composer had retired as conductor of the Donaueschingen orchestra whose theater had in any event burned to the ground.  If its rendition on Monday had a saving grace, it was ensemble member Vadim Lando's standout performance on clarinet .

The next work was Schumann's Piano Quartet in C minor, WoO 32 (1828).  This is not, of course, the composer's famous Quartet in E-flat major but rather a youthful effort written some thirteen years before when Schumann was only 19 years old and had barely begun to learn his trade.  At the time of the work's composition Schumann was still studying law in Leipzig and had not yet begun his apprenticeship as an aspiring concert pianist under thet tutelage of Friedrich Wieck, his future father-in-law.  As such, this slight work is of only historical interest.  The most interesting revelation to be gleaned from it is that Schumann was no prodigy. While the work possesses some slight charms - Schumann was later to use one of its themes in his Op. 4 Intermezzi - it fails to give any indication of the great works that were to come.  If I were asked to describe the quartet in one word, it would be "overwrought."  Considering how young Schumann was at the time he composed it, that's not especailly surprising.

After intermission, the program concluded with the work I had really come to hear, Dvořák's String Sextet in A major, Op. 48 (1878) for two violins, two violas and two cellos.  The work was written relatively early in Dvořák's career, only a few years after he had first come to prominence by winning the Austrian Prize (in a competition that had been judged by both Eduard Hanslick and Brahms himself) and in the same year as his breakthrough success with the Slavonic Dances.  The fact that Joseph Joachim was among the musicians who played the sextet at its Berlin premiere - this was Dvořák's first major work to be premiered outside Bohemia - was one sign that the composer had at last arrived.  Another indication of Dvořák's increasing confidence in his abilities can be found in the emphasis he now placed on traditional Czech folk music, especially in the use of the dumka in the second movement, in place of the German works that had hitherto served as his models.  This is reinforced by the reference to the Slavonic Dances in the third movement trio and again in the third variation in the fourth movement.

As always, the musicianship at this recital was beyond reproach.  I had previously heard guest artists Elizaveta Kopelman, piano, and Mikhail Kopelman, violin, perform with this same company and been greatly impressed by their virtuosity.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Met Opera: Massenet's Thaïs

On Saturday afternoon I went to the Met Opera to see a performance of Thaïs, a work by Jules Massenet with libretto by Louis Gallet, that has been enjoying a revival of popularity during the past several years.  For that matter, Massenet's ability as a composer has itself been undergoing a critical reappraisal in the course of the last half century.  Long dismissed as merely a hack who pandered to popular taste, he has come to be seen as one of the major French composers of the nineteenth century.

The criticism leveled against Massenet after his death was not completely without merit.  Like other French composers of his day, he willingly provided ballet scenes in place of dramatic action and favored librettos whose love stories contained titillating elements, in this case the story of an ascetic monk whose sexual longings are awakened by an encounter with a courtesan whose character is not far different from Violetta's in Verdi's La Traviata.  But it must be remembered that Massenet was writing for a Parisian audience that demanded such conventions, no matter how regrettable they may seem to modern audiences.  Only consider the near riot that erupted at the Paris Opéra when in 1861 Wagner insisted on putting the ballet in Act I of Tannhäuser rather than in Act II, thus inconveniencing members of the Jockey Club.  If Massenet's works were accordingly more entertainment than high art, they nevertheless filled that role brilliantly with music that was extremely accomplished.

There are more serious themes that underlie the plot of Thaïs.  Among these are the anti-clericism that ran through French thought in the late nineteenth century.  The character of Athanaël, who believes he is acting out of the highest principles in saving Thaïs from a life of sin only to discover at the end that he has really been motivated by carnal desire, is a study in hypocrisy even if Athanaël is unaware of his true feelings until it is too late.  Another theme is that of Orientalism that so pervaded European culture in the nineteenth century only to be castigated by Edward Said in the 1970's.  Here it provides a sense of exoticism in the libretto as well as in Massenet's music that must have significantly added to the opera's charms for its original audience.  It's really difficult to criticize Massenet on this count since he was really only following in the tradition Mozart had established as early as the eighteenth century in Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

Although Manon (1884) is universally regarded as Massenet's greatest creation, I think that honor should more justly be accorded to Werther (1887), an exceptionally accomplished adaptation of Goethe's classic that can best be appreciated when the title role is sung by a great tenor, such as Alfredo Kraus in the 1980's.  Thaïs, in my opinion at least, falls somewhere in between these two works.  Its music, notably the entr'acte Méditation, is bewitching in its beauty and the two main characters, Thaïs and Athanaël, are carefully enough delineated that they arouse genuine sympathy.  The use of an Alexandrian setting is at once exotic and at the same time paradoxically ascetic . 

Saturday's performance was the first time I'd seen the opera.  Although the cast contained no big names and was led by a lesser known conductor, Emmanuel Villaume, I'd been anxious to attend a performance of Thaïs ever since having purchased the recording featuring Renée Fleming in the title role.  As it turned out, this was a sturdy performance even if it never rose to the heights of greatness.  Villaume did a workmanlike job on the podium that allowed the sensuous beauty of Massenet's music to shine.  Ailyn Pérez as Thaïs and Gerald Finley as Athanaël both turned in strong if not inspiring performances.  The 2008 production John Cox was handsome without being unduly ostentatious.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Carnegie Hall: Israel Philharmonic Performs Mahler #3

Yesterday evening I went for the first time this season to Carnegie Hall where the Israel Philharmonic was performing under the baton of Zubin Mehta, the orchestra's Music Director for Life.  This was the first opportunity I'd had in several years to hear both orchestra and conductor, and I was very interested to discover how well they would fare with one of the longest and most challenging symphonies in the repertoire (as well as the only work on the program), Mahler's monumental Symphony No. 3.

At approximately one hour and forty minutes, the Third is the longest symphony Mahler ever wrote, and for that matter one of the longest in the entire repertoire.  For that reason alone it's one of the composer's less frequently performed works.  It is a demanding experience for both listeners and musicians that requires total immersion in an imaginative world whose meaning, despite the programmatic titles that were later dropped, is never made explicit.

The powerful crashing opening of the first movement, marked Kräftig. Entschieden, reminded me of of Strauss's more heroic tone poems, not coincidentally written at roughly the same time as the Third; but the music soon sank to a more introspective level.  It was as if in this long movement Mahler was creating a setting from which the five movements of the second half would evolve.  I had not realized until recently that the movement's opening theme was adapted from the fourth movement of Brahms's Symphony No. 1.

The two movements in the second half that most catch the listener's attention are the fourth and fifth.  These are both choral pieces but of entirely different forms. The fourth is the setting of Nietzsche's "Midnight Song" from Also sprach Zarathustra, a work published only a few years earlier that had exerted an incredible influence on European thought, particularly in Germany.  Sung by alto alone, it is soft and meditative as it explores the depths of both suffering and joy.  Its introspective musings contrast sharply with the deceptively playful children's chorus of the fifth movement, "Es sungen drei Engel" from Des Knaben Wunderhorn.  This leads directly into the lengthy adagio the concludes the symphony. Here the work finds its resolution in the most stately form imaginable.  The world Mahler has created here becomes complete.

I had heard a stunning rendition of the No. 3 in the spring of 2016 when Gustavo Dudamel led the L.A. Philharmonic as part of the Great Performers series at Lincoln Center. It was really that performance that allowed me to first truly appreciate how great a work this is, certainly one of Mahler's finest achievements.  I thought yesterday evening's performance to be on the same level.  The audience was held spellbound through work's entire length.  Mehta did an excellent job on the podium as he exerted tight control of the orchestra.  Japanese mezzo-soprano Mihoko Fujimura, supported by the Manhattan Girls Chorus, was outstanding in the symphony's choral movements.

The concert was broadcast live on WQXR, New York City's classical music station, and the archived performance is available for listening on the WQXR website.  Nothing, however, can match the thrill of actually having been at Carnegie Hall to hear the work performed live. It was a truly amazing experience.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Juilliard Faculty Recital: Elizabeth Chang

On Saturday afternoon, I walked down to Juilliard's Paul Hall to hear a one-hour recital given by violinist Elizabeth Chang, a member of the school's pre-college faculty, and her accompanist on piano, Steven Beck.  The short program limited itself to two early twentieth century works by Hungarian composers.

The recital opened with Ernő Dohnányi's Sonata in C-sharp minor, Op. 21 (1912). In the first half of the twentieth century, Dohnányi was a major figure on the European musical scene. He was successively an instructor at the Berlin Hochschule, Director of the Budapest Academy, and Music Director of the Budapest Philharmonic.  His musical compositions were highly regarded and regularly performed at major venues.  As a virtuoso pianist, Dohnányi toured both Europe and the United States to great acclaim.  In spite of all this, he was largely forgotten after his death and his music is not often performed today.  Part of the reason may be that as a composer he never really outgrew the influence of Brahms; unlike his fellow countryman Bartók, Dohnányi remained firmly rooted in nineteenth century aesthetics.  This sometimes has the unfortunate effect of making his music seem out of date to the modern listener.  Certainly, the sonata performed here is deeply indebted to Brahms.  The work consists of three movements, all of them fast, with the opening theme of the first movement reappearing as the coda to the final movement.  It's an accomplished piece of music filled with the spirit of Classical Romanticism.  Listening to it, one can understand why Brahms had championed Dohnányi's earliest endeavor, the 1895 piano quintet in C minor.  By 1912, though, Classical Romanticism had finally given way to Modernism and the Dohnányi sonata was already an anachronism at the time of its publication.

The second and final work was Béla Bartók's Violin Sonata No. 1, Sz. 75 (1921).  Although one always thinks of Bartók first as a pianist, one only has to look to his amazing six quartets to appreciate how adept he was at composing for strings.  The present three-movement work, completed only a few years after The Miraculous Mandarin, was written during a period when Bartók had fully embraced both Modernism and the dissonance that accompanied it.  There is a sense of violent unease throughout the work, and the final movement's folk sources are transformed almost beyond recognition.  Both the Sonata No. 1 and the No. 2 that followed a year later were dedicated to Jelly d’Arányi, one of the most notable violinists of her day and a great-grand niece of Joseph Joachim.  Even though both composer and soloist were Hungarian, d’Arányi was based in London and it was there that the premieres of both sonatas were given with d’Arányi on violin and Bartók playing the piano part.  

The Bartók sonata is a technically challenging work that places great demands on both performers. Steven Beck was extremely impressive in his handling of the difficult piano part while Ms. Chang displayed a seemingly effortless virtuosity on violin.

Ms. Chang made a few remarks from the stage, but unfortunately these were largely inaudible even though I was seated in the fourth row.  She may very well have been calling attention to the contrasts between the two works on the program.  Dohnányi and Bartók were born only four years apart (1877 and 1881 respectively) and yet they represented two entirely different eras.  Nothing could so have emphasized the Modernism of the Bartók sonata as its placement beside the Dohnányi.  Perhaps it was only my taste in music, but the Bartók seemed almost a century after its composition as alive and vital as any contemporary music - how strange and jarring it must have sounded to its first listeners - while the Dohnányi, written less than ten years before, appeared more a carefully done academic exercise, a calculated tribute to European music's past glories.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Art Book: Metropolitan Lives

One of my favorite schools of painting, perhaps because I'm a native New Yorker, is that of the Ashcan Artists - Robert Henri, William Glackens, George Luks, Everett Shinn, John Sloan and George Bellows.  From roughly 1904 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914 they pioneered a distinctive style of American realism.  The group actually had its beginnings in Philadelphia in the 1890's where most of its members were employed as illustrators at the city's newspapers.  It was Henri who drew them together there with the inspirational Tuesday evening talks he gave at his studio.  Rebecca Zurier's essay, "The Making of Six New York Artists," fails to mention, though, that Henri and several of his protégés had previously studied under Thomas Anshutz, a former student of Thomas Eakins, at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  After the artists had relocated to New York City the movement gained its greatest renown with the show of "the Eight" at Macbeth Galleries in 1908.  (The membership of the Ashcan Artists and the Eight was not identical.  Three of the Eight – Arthur B. Davies, Ernest Lawson, and Maurice Prendergast - did not paint in the Ashcan style while George Bellows, who did, was not included in the 1908 exhibit.)

If there was a literary inspiration for the Ashcan Artists, it was certainly Walt Whitman whose celebration of the common man and the American spirit was embodied in their paintings.  As political radicals (Sloan was a member of the Socialist Party and served on the editorial board of The Masses), the artists did not hesitate to go into the tenements and red light districts and make them the subject of their paintings.  It was this that distinguished their work from other strands of American realism.  And in this sense New York City was the perfect subject for their art.  Robert Snyder's essay "City in Transition" begins:
"The greatest theater in New York has always been the theater of its streets, especially at the beginning of the twentieth century. The city that emerged was both coarse and inspiring.  Tenements sprawled in the shadows of skyscrapers.  Sidewalks rang with a symphony of languages.  Street-corner socialists battled sweatshop tyrants.  Bright lights illuminated nickelodeons and vaudeville theaters, the new temples of mass culture."
But the paintings these artists produced were not in any way didactic but rather celebrations of the teeming life that filled the streets from the Battery to Harlem.  They portrayed the immigrants in their ethnic neighborhoods, the shopgirls on their way to work, the crowds gathered underneath the elevated lines to hear election results with pure affection.  They realized that it was these masses of people pursuing their dreams and enjoying their leisure that made this country great.  It's no accident that the longest essay in the book is Snyder and Zurier's "Picturing the City."

What makes this book especially poignant is the fact that when it was published much of the New York City the Ashcan Artists portrayed could still be found in spirit if not in fact.  The rich still lived side by side with the poor and the same polyglot mixture of peoples could still be seen following their traditional routines.  In the last twenty years, though, that New York City has disappeared as real estate interests have transformed the city into an enclave that's now exclusively for the rich.  The vibrance and zest for life is gone now as venerable institutions are put out of business and the buildings that housed them torn down to make way for high-rise condos.  The few venues that remain, such as McSorley's in the East Village, are nothing more than museums left intact to provide local color.  

Metropolitan Lives: The Ashcan Artists and Their New York was published to accompany a 1995-1996 exhibit of the same name presented by the National Museum of American Art.  It consists of a series of well written essays by Rebecca Zurier, Robert W. Snyder and Virginia M. Mecklenburg and a huge number of reproductions, not only of the Ashcan Artists' paintings, but of photographs, postcards, newspaper clippings and memorabilia from the period in which they worked.  Together they bring back to life, if only in print, the dynamic metropolis New York City was at the beginning of the twentieth century when everything seemed possible to its inhabitants.  It's not so much a scholarly work as a loving tribute.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Juilliard Piano Recital: Bach and Liszt

On Wednesday the 25th, I returned to Juilliard's Paul Hall to hear the second of two recitals given only a week apart by the Piano Performance Forum.  On this occasion, the recital lasted almost exactly an hour and featured the works of two of the greatest composers for keyboard, J.S. Bach and Liszt.

The program opened with Bach's Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903 (1717-1723) as performed by JiNa Kim.  I've always considered this to be Bach's finest work for keyboard and am surprised it's not played more often. The piece was most probably written during Bach's sojourn in Köthen where he served as kapellmeister to Prince Leopold and composed primarily secular music.  The position allowed Bach comparatively more freedom of expression, and he made full use of it in creating some of his most iconic works, most notably the cello suites, the violin sonatas and partitas, and the Brandenburg concertos.  It did initially strike me as strange to encounter the word "chromatic" in association with Bach since the term usually signifies to twenty-first century listeners the twelve tone scale and hence atonal music.  But chromaticism - the interpolation of diatonic pitches and chords with other pitches of the chromatic scale - was widely used by many composers, including Mozart, and does not in itself denote atonalism.  In fact, the chromatic fantasie itself did not originate with Bach - it had been in use as early as the sixteenth century in the music of John Dowland and Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

The next work was Bach's Concerto nach Italienischem Gusto ("Concerto in the Italian taste"), BWV 971 (1735); it was performed by Christian DeLuca.  Together, the Italian Concerto and the French Overture, which I had heard at the prior week's recital, make up the composer's second book of keyboard exercises, Clavier-Übung II.  Another feature these works share is that both the Concerto and the Overture were originally intended for the two-manual harpsichord, a rare occurrence in Bach's oeuvre and one that can cause problems in interpretation when played on a modern piano.   In publishing the two pieces together Bach was attempting to contrast for his German audience two "foreign" styles of musical composition.  Accordingly, while the movements of the French Overture correspond to dances popular in the Baroque era, such as the sarabande and gigue, the three movements of the Italian Concerto use the markings andante and presto that are more familiar to modern audiences.  Bach had already spent a great deal of time transcribing for solo keyboard various works by Vivaldi, and this was his own attempt at a concerto grosso in the style of the Italian master but composed for one instrument alone.  Bach held Vivaldi in very high esteem, and perhaps for this reason the Italian Concerto is a more successful endeavor than the French Overture.  In the Concerto one hears a playfulness and lightness of touch not often found in Bach's music.

The program concluded with a rendition by Qilin Sun of Liszt's famous Sonata in B minor (1853).  Perhaps what's most interesting when studying the history of the piece is that it demonstrates that as early as 1853 there were already in place the fault lines that were to divide music lovers in the second half of the nineteenth century.  Wagner, proponent of the "new music" and Liszt's future son-in-law, found the piece to be beautiful "beyond all conception" and "sublime."  This is not surprising since the sonata makes full use of the device of "thematic transformation" that formed the basis of Wagner's operas.  On the other hand, Brahms, who was to become the acknowledged leader of "Classical Romanticism," fell asleep while hearing Liszt play the piece.  In much the same manner, Brahms's future champion Eduard Hanslick (the same who was to refer to Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto as "music that stinks to the ear") wrote dismissively: "whoever has heard that [the sonata], and finds it beautiful, is beyond help."  Even Clara Schumann joined the chorus, writing "This is nothing but sheer racket – not a single healthy idea, everything confused, no longer a clear harmonic sequence to be detected there!"  It's fascinating to speculate what her husband Robert, to whom Liszt's work had been dedicated, might have thought of it, but by the time he received his copy he had already been institutionalized and never had an opportunity to hear it performed let alone play it himself.  And yet it's evident that Robert's own Fantasie in C major, dedicated to Liszt, influenced the composition of the sonata in both length and structure as well as in the quiet ending that fades to nothingness.  The sonata also hearkens back to Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy in its single movement form (in the sense that the entire work is performed without pause).  Certainly, today these three works are seen as the essence of Romanticism, at least as far as the repertoire for solo piano is concerned.