Music Preview: BEHZOD ABDURAIMOV (Rachmoninoff’s Second Piano Concerto with the LA Phil and Gustavo Dudamel at the Hollywood Bowl)

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by Tony Frankel on July 10, 2018

in Music,Theater-Los Angeles


Pianist Behzod Abduraimov is coming to the Hollywood Bowl this Thursday, July 12, 2018, so prepare yourself for one of the world’s greatest pianists. In fact, the in-demand, rightfully popular 27-year-old Uzbek pianist, who was born in Tashkent in 1990 just before the collapse of the Soviet Union, may just deliver one of the most memorable concerts of the year performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

Fascinatingly enough, Abduraimov is a replacement (taking over for Khatia Buniatishvili who had to cancel due to illness): The first time I encountered this thrilling musician was also as a last-minute replacement at Disney Hall in 2014, where he walloped a white-knuckle, pulsating performance of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, a notoriously demanding piano score with many rhythmic challenges.

I knew he was the real thing the first time I saw him; his superior skill and intelligent emotionalism are an amazing combination to watch live. They don’t appear often, these completely enrapturing soloists who combine the old-school magnetic quality of superlative technique with energetic experimentation, soul, and discovery, so you must watch him take on the Second, a notoriously demanding but melody-rich score.

When I saw him again at Disney Hall, he brought a sense of his own personal reformation and combined it with the majesty and power of the classical Russian spirit, but this time with a French composer. Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2 was extraordinarily well-suited to Abduraimov’s temperament. The romance, wit, passion, and declaration was just the beginning: His triumphant trills were tremendous, and he ran through the arpeggios as if he were skipping rocks on the water. His playing was full of attack where required, but also sincere in the concerto’s more tranquil passages, especially the moody, bittersweet opening passage.

I also saw Abduraimov’s rapturous rendition of Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto at the Bowl, so watch out for what he’ll do with the Rach 2. Since the enormous chords (typical of Rachmaninoff’s works) are gruelingly intersected with breakneck fingering, popular thinking subscribes to the notion that Rachmaninoff should be tackled by pianists with hands the same size as the composer’s enormous paws, but Abduraimov, whose hands appear to be half the size of Rachmaninoff’s, has the most amazing super-hero stretching mitts. You must see this young master; you won’t think of pianists or the Rach 2 in the same way again.

The program at the Bowl remains unchanged: conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, the second half will be Modest Mussorgsky’s extraordinarily popular Pictures at an Exhibition.

photos courtesy of LA Phil; headshot photo by Christian Fatu

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
Bezhod Abduraimov, pianist
The Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.
Thursday, July 12, 2018 at 8pm
for tickets, call 323.850.2000 or visit The Hollywood Bowl

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Hannah Oh July 13, 2018 at 10:39 am

Great concert on Thursday July 12, 2018. Enjoyed the Rach #2.
What was the solo piano encore piece that Pianist Behzod Abduraimov played?

Thank you.


Tony Frankel July 13, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Wasn’t that an amazing concert, Hannah? The encore was: Liszt — Étude No. 3 in G-sharp minor (Allegretto) “La Campanella” (“The little bell” in Italian) from Grandes études de Paganini, S.141 (1851).

It’s a revision of an earlier version from 1838, the Études d’exécution transcendente d’après Paganini, S. 140. The melody comes from the final movement of Niccolò Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, where the tune was reinforced metaphorically by a “little handbell.” This is portrayed by the top-note jumps that need to be played within the time-frame of a 16th note.

I don’t remember a time when an audience broke out into applause DURING an encore. Simply magnificent!


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