A Serious Note
Piano concert showcases talent but lacks enthusiasm.
Published: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 17:03
Solon Pierce is serious about playing piano and does so in a very serious manner. His program was a switch from the first two concerts of the free series, which were more of an interactive learning experience. The performers seemed more passionate about playing and appeared to be enjoying themselves.
Pierce's program was a stark contrast, a taste of proper classical etiquette. He hardly acknowledged the audience, except to calmly bow, and point out two changes in the program. He did not break a smile once. His solo piano concert consisted of seven pieces according to the program, but it was hard to follow where he was in the performance because he only spoke to the audience twice.
He started his concert with a slow, sad, and expressive piece. Although it was played skillfully, he could have started with something more upbeat. The first song should grab the audience's attention, not lull them to sleep. It was a song that would be hard for someone who is not a musician to appreciate; it lacked steady rhythm, and a repeated melodic phrase.
Although his program was introduced as an eclectic mix of songs, they almost all were played in the same style; lots of racing arpeggios, drastic dynamics that seemed to follow the free flowing tempo, and lack of a steady beat. He played the songs expressively, yet Pierce himself was completely expressionless. It was hard to tell if he was getting any enjoyment out of performing, or had any passion for the music.
Of course, the lack of passion could have been due to the atmosphere of the room. The program he played was more suited for a concert hall filled with men and women in their fanciest attire, with all the spot lights gleaming down upon him, the sole performer. Due to a lack of proper stage lighting, he was playing to a room full of college students in jeans and sweatshirts, themselves lit up under bright florescent lights.
The "Graceful Ghost Rag" was the highlight of his performance. It was energetic, with a steady beat you could dance to. It was the only piece that showed diversity in his style of playing.
He closed with his own rendition of the song "Somewhere," from the musical "The West Side Story." He managed to take a beautiful and classic melody, add frills and arpeggios, and strip it of any rhythmic beat it once had. Although it was played with an impressive skill level, it was not an impressive take on the song.