Long awaited piano recital impresses audience

This Sunday in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, Associate Professor of Music Anthony Padilla performed an energetic and passionate concert featuring Associate Professor of Piano Michael Mizrahi. Mizrahi joined Padilla on Symphonic Dances, op. 45 from Russian pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. Playing for a small intimate crowd, the two pianists captured the attention of the audience completely, and for most of the recital the chapel was still, mesmerized by the harmonies and conversations between the two pianos.

The recital started with Padilla performing Theme and Variations in D minor by Brahms, a lively piece that was a good introduction to Padilla himself. Watching him play is visually and audibly entertaining because of the obvious passion and love he displays for the music. He swayed and conducted to himself when only playing with one hand, moved his feet around and bounced on the bench when the music intensified. His performance makes you smile because of the color and spirit he shows. After the first piece, Padilla took his time finishing, letting the last notes ring out and leaving the audience in awe. After bowing and applause, he introduced himself and Mizrahi for the next piece. The knowledge displayed while introducing the music is inspiring. He explained how he likes to perform pieces that are transcribed from orchestra to piano or vice versa. He says it enriches his experience as a performer and brings out the music’s true colors and versatility. And it’s true that the composer was most likely sitting at a piano when writing, imagining the other instruments that would eventually come to join in the melodies.

Mizrahi joined Padilla on stage for the introduction to the next piece. Symphonic Dances includes three movements, “Non allegro,” “Andante con moto (Tempo di Valse)” and “Lento assai- Allegro vivace.” The progression of the first movement brings the audience into the ups and downs of the piece, changing from slow romantic melodies to a waltz to the epic ending. Watching the two pianists interact and play together, with their pianos facing each other, was captivating. Mizrahi bounced to the tempo changes, mirroring Padilla. Both were stiff but rhythmic, swaying like dancers. The blending harmonies of the two pianos were impressive, and the two performers seemed to be very in tune with one another. The playfulness of the movements of the pianists added another element to the pieces. At the end of the engaging dances, Padilla and Mizrahi left stage after bowing. Padilla patted Mizrahi’s back. The two seemed pleased with themselves, and this small act of friendliness made me smile, showing the bond between the musicians and how much they looked forward to performing with each other.

Padilla explained how this recital was supposed to happen six months ago but was postponed by a tremendous blizzard. In a way I think this made the performance more special — it was obviously something they had been looking forward to for a long time. The passion in the playing of the two pianists was special to see; it reminded me of the depth and beauty in attending classical music recitals. It was a relaxing evening of expressive music by Anthony Padilla and Michael Mizrahi.

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