Three great recitals down, none to go.

Posted Saturday, Jun. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Backstage at Bass Hall, a sweat-drenched Nikita Mndoyants looked as if he had just completed an exhausting athletic contest, which in many respects he had.

Only with more mood swings and emotion.

“Just to a little exhausted after performing, because I try to put all the power and feeling into this quite long recital,” he said after a program that included Scarlatti, Debussy, Mussorgsky and the commissioned piece by Christopher Theofanidis. “There were different styles and I have to switch my mood, my mind so many times. Especially Mussorgsky has so many kinds of images in this program. That especially takes a lot of energy.”

Make that two and a half hours of recitals in the books at the Cliburn. Yet to come is a chamber performance with the Brentano String Quartet, and two concertos if he advances to the finals.

“I think I will feel relief tomorrow,” Mndoyants said. “Now I get to focus on a totally another kind of music, this chamber music. Now I have to switch my ear to make connection with other musicians. We have to do it together and we have to make a good connection. We have just one opportunity to know each other, (Sunday’s rehearsal) but I know this quartet is fabulous. I think we will find some type of insight.”

A large crowd of admirers waited for the 24-year-old Mndoyants outside of Bass Hall, many of them buzzing about Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, one of the most popular pieces in the repertoire. Even though its often heard, Mndoyants says he does not feel any pressure to find a fresh interpretation. His only obligation, he said, was to the composer.

“That sometimes happens to these very famous works that are played a lot,” he said. “They try to make it more fresh, changing very important things like dynamics and tempo. I just think that it’s necessary to approach the text that the composer writes, to clear from my memory any other interpretations.”

Tim Madigan, 817-390-7544 Twitter: @tsmadigan

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