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Soirees pianist Cedrick Tiberghein earns praise

For nearly 40 years, Impresario Don Hageman has presented the world’s finest pianists for Soirées Musicales recital series. On occasion, he introduces a “block-buster” who transports the audience into a frenzy of enthusiasm.

The usual credentials proceeded French pianist Cédrick Tiberghein. At age 32, he has won prestigious prizes, played in important venues with major orchestras, and received high praise from reviewers.

Examining his program was a hint of what was to come. He was to play the works of two composers, Brahms and Bartók.  The selection, in-depth evocations of their music, was a most adventurous departure.

Without a word or an overt reaction, the handsome youth sat at the piano and began to pay the entire Brahms’ Klavierstücke without pause.  These eight Capriccios and Intermezzi are usually played separately in recitals.  Each is quite different but hearing them evoked to their fullest, the magical interrelationships were uniquely experienced.

The notes sprang from the piano with a shimmering quality of clarity and power. Never bombastic, the works carved a musical totality.  

Next, the Bartók Out of Doors Suite received the same stunning revelation.  The music, less familiar, is an encyclopedia of the capacity of the piano. Dramatic drum beats and delicate waves of a Barcarolla mix and match with coy humor and sheer musical loveliness.  The first half of the concert ended with a perpetual motion which must have been marked prestissimo.  

The buzz at intermission was full of great praise and sheer wonder at this young virtuoso.  Excitement greeted the second half of the concert. Tiberghien played, again without pause, three collections of fifteen Bartók dances. The remarkable clarity and glorious sound tested the limits of even the giant Grotrian piano.

The recital closed with another revelation.  Brahms’ Ten Hungarian Dances, so often heard in orchestral versions, were originally written for the piano. To hear the familiar melodies, alive with freshness and excitement, was unforgettable. Each phrase was the purest imprint of the music delivered with absolute mastery.  

This concert must be a Vorspeise of musical banquets to come.  Dayton must hear Cédrick Tiberghein again and again in recital and in concert with the Philharmonic.

Metropolitan Opera’s Dr. Atomic  

Finally, everything is possible in opera.  Imagine an advanced physics lesson making sense while being sung? That was, in a nutshell, the Met’s live HD presentation of John Cage’s Dr. Atomic.

Cage, and librettist Peter Sellers, are fearless.  After all, they made a fine opera out of Nixon’s trip to China. Neither “tricky Dickie” nor Chairman Mao were loveable or even exciting characters.  Yet, as witnessed by the Cincinnati Opera’s fine production of 2007, the opera worked very well.

Dr. Atomic deals with the period of time just before the first actual atomic test in Los Alamos, New Mexico.  No one knew if the bomb would work, or, if it would destroy the world by causing the global atmosphere to burn.

The morality of the bomb, ending the war without an invasion of Japan versus killing untold thousands, was on everyone’s mind.  Science and scientists were on trial.  

The bomb worked and the world was never the same.  The opera worked, very well in fact, and that art will be changed as well.  Imagine an opening operatic chorus entitled “Matter can neither be created nor destroyed.”  We’ve come a long was since Gluck’s cavorting gods and goddesses.

The singing was peerless but largely relegated to Sprechstimme – speaking in a singing voice.   The music, however, was highly melodic and quite varied.  One had to listen past the singing to hear the richness of the score.  

My summation:  Dr. Atomic is a real opera.  The musical experience weaves the history and the complex psychology successfully.  Will it appear on Dayton Opera’s stage – I think not.

Dayton Playhouse Auntie Mame

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this jewel of a theater company, Dayton Playhouse reached back to 1964 to revive Auntie Mame – the play, not the musical.  Brian Sharp directed what was one of the most lavish productions.  The huge cast included such local luminaries as Pam McGinnis, Renee Franck Reed and Tina McPhearson in the major roles.

Sophisticated comedy can be compared to an omelet.  The essential ingredients must be assembled and combined with loving care, careful direction and above all – timing.  In this mounting of Auntie Mame many of the ingredients were there but a critical part was missing – the eggs!

Hampered by remarkably poor diction and timing, the actors seemed to relate to the lines but not to each other.  Scene after scene lost the impact which could make the play a hit.  There were clever touches.  Each scene ended with the spotlight on Tina as Mame making a telling grimace.  The music of the period between scenes was also a wonderful addition.

Cassandra Engber brightened the stage as the misfit secretary Agnes Gooch.  Pam McGinnis looked like a revue of Vogue Magazine of that glamorous era, sporting the duds beautifully.  

Don’t be discouraged.  Dayton Playhouse has a great record of fine theater.  This is only a glitch.

Human Race scholarship accepting applications

The Human Race Theatre Company has opened the application process for the 2nd Annual Stephen Schwartz Musical Theatre Scholarships, which are designed to support singer/actors in the Dayton area who are training for musical theatre careers. The scholarships - $3,500 for a current college student, $1,500 for a high school student accepted into a college musical theatre program.

Students with permanent addresses in Montgomery, Preble, Darke, Miami, Clark, Greene, Warren or Butler counties or who are currently enrolled at a college in one of those counties are eligible to apply. Complete application information can be found at The application deadline is Nov. 24, 2008.

Preliminary auditions will be held in December, with the final audition before a live audience next April.



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November 18, 2008
Volume 17, No. 47

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