Los Angeles Music Review: RAMIN BAHRAMI (Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts)

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by Daniel S. G. Wood on April 11, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles


If anything, Iranian pianist Ramin Bahrami’s American debut at the Wallis in Beverly Hills last Wednesday was just more evidence for soloists needing a director. The discussion need not be about his mastery of Bach (which he has in spades) or whether his playing is innovative or not (my vote is “not” by the way) but about the approach to performance, period. It is clear that Bahrami plays extraordinarily well with seemingly effortless technique and without affectation and that he loves to do so (he also amazed by delivering the all-Bach & Scarlatti program from memory), Ramin_Bahrami2but at its worst the evening felt like we were crammed into Bahrami’s practice room: the majority of his tempi were too fast, the consequence of which was gumption at the expense of clarity. Sometimes it felt like watching a kid who just got his recital piece up to tempo and then plays it as fast as possible out of sheer excitement. He did acknowledge the audience, and they seemed to be receptive, but his flair (taking silly bows, walking off stage after every piece, and the occasional “conducting himself” move) came across as ingratiating and noninclusive. In the program’s second half, Bahrami proved he can bring lyricism to the variations, but his playing lacked the color and shading necessary to create magic. These are things a director can point out. Soloists think that they don’t answer to anyone because they finally learned to play music flawlessly, but if their goal is to perform for an audience (versus a CD) then they should incorporate the fundamental aspects of appealing to one.

Ramin_BahramiRamin Bahrami
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills
played on Wednesday April 9, 2014
for future Wallis events, call (310) 246.3800
or visit www.thewallis.org

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