The annual PianoTexas festival at TCU got underway on Friday night with a program that was somewhat unusual but also a little sad.
The unusual part was that four faculty members, including one not often heard on the concert stage around here, were teamed for the music of a single composer.
The sad part was that the program was dedicated to the memory of José Feghali, who was associated with PianoTexas for years.
PianoTexas is an academy and festival that offers instruction and performance possibilities to young artists, teachers and adult amateurs. Many faculty members give “Distinguished Artist Recitals” of their own.
It was this function that prevailed on Friday night’s program in PepsiCo Recital Hall. The performers were Tamás Ungár, the founder and director of PianoTexas; Veda Kaplinsky; John Owings; and Harold Martina. All of the music was by Chopin, the featured composer of this year’s PianoTexas (though the music of a few other composers will be heard before the festival is over).
The biggest surprise (and delight) of the evening was a Chopin rarity: the Rondo in C Major for Two Pianos, with Ungár and Martina as the performers. This proved to be a charming work, cheerful in mood, with even a touch of humor if I’m hearing correctly. How often does anyone associate Chopin and humor?
The rest of the program was more conventional. Ungár began the evening with a brief tribute to Feghali, and then played, appropriately, two Chopin works that are both lovely and a bit melancholy: Nocturnes of Opus 27.
Kaplinsky came next. She is most often thought of as a teacher and one of the most prominent ones — she’s head of the piano department at the Juilliard School as well as serving on the TCU music faculty. On Friday she proved to be a formidable performer as well, with a mazurka and a ballade (No. 2) that combined poetry and power.
Owings’ gentle Berceuse was a highlight of his portion of the program, while Martina’s entry (two waltzes and the fourth scherzo) were rather playful in mood.
PianoTexas faculty recitals
7:30 p.m. in PepsiCo Recital Hall.
Saturday — Eugen Indjic
June 12 — Piotr Paleczny
June 13 — Dina Yoffe
June 19 — Arie Vardi
June 20 — Dang Thai Son