A remarkable young pianist who combines exceptional virtuosity and the soul of a true poet presented the latest Cliburn at the Kimbell program in Renzo Piano Pavilion Thursday night.
His name is Behzod Abduraimov, he’s only 26, but already he possesses artistic maturity rare for any age. The Cliburn organization can claim a slight connection with Abduraimov, who’s from Uzbekistan: One of his former teachers is Cliburn 2001 gold medalist Stanislav Ioudenitch.
Abduraimov presented a varied program full of masterpieces.
The first was Cortot’s arrangement of Bach’s arrangement of a Vivaldi siciliano. This is for organ in Bach’s version (the BWV number is 596), but Cortot’s is for piano. This is a brief piece, quite lovely and calm, and in Abduraimov’s hands was a masterpiece of understatement.
The next work, Busoni’s piano arrangement of Bach’s great Toccata and Fugue in D minor, was grander, as befits one of Bach’s more popular showcases for organ, but was devoid of overstatement.
The music of Schubert is all too rare on recital programs, at least around here, so Abduraimov’s lyrical performance of two Moments Musicals (Nos. 2 and 3) was a welcome inclusion.
What is probably Beethoven’s most popular sonata, the Appassionata, was given a brilliant performance that managed both high drama and subtlety of expression. This work is a showcase for virtuosos; Abduraimov more than has the chops to give it its due.
Another technique-testing piece is Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 6, which is almost cruel in its demands. Abduraimov again conquered.
He made it three in a row with Balakirev’s Islamey, a piece of muscle music that often shows up in Cliburn Competition performances. At the end, one couldn’t help wondering how Abduraimov got the stamina for all this.