The following was written by Vincent Nauheimer:
In an ongoing effort to present multicultural artistry and international talent, Charles R. Hale Productions’ “New Yorkers: Together in Story and Song” featured English pianist Harriet Stubbs at the Cell Theatre last Thursday. This was the third show of a six performance series.
Ms. Stubbs, who was recognized as a child prodigy, has a well-deserved reputation and a lengthy repertoire of both individual and collaborative works. Her solo performance at the Cell Theatre last Thursday was at once riveting, nuanced and fresh, as she soared through four warhorses of the piano repertoire.
Ms Stubbs opened the recital with the Bach-Busoni, Chaccone in D Minor. The Chaccone is regarded as one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s violin masterpieces; Busoni’s piano transcription has long been recognized as a splendid interpretation of Bach’s work. Ms. Stubbs played this dramatic piece with the insight it deserves, delighting the audience with her musicality and talent, accentuated by her intensity and expressiveness.
Ms. Stubbs followed the Chaccone with Alexander Scriabin’s Sonata No. 2, Op 19, one of Scriabin’s most popular works. Scriabin’s sonatas are known as technically difficult works and Ms Stubbs was up to the task, bringing her vast technical skills to the piece, while capturing the very distinctive “voice” of Scriabin’s music.
Ms Stubbs final work of the first section of the program was Frederic Chopin’s Scherzo No. 2, which composer Robert Schumann compared to a Byronic poem, “so overflowing with tenderness, boldness, love and contempt.” Ms. Stubbs successfully articulated the full range of Byron’s emotions.
After a short intermission, Ms Stubbs performed the Dante Sonata/Fantasia Quasi Sonata by Franz Liszt. During the piece, commonly believed to be based on Dante’s Inferno, Ms. Stubbs took the audience on a musical journey, deftly navigating the works emotional highs and lows, which served to highlight her prolific talent. The rousing work induced a well deserved standing ovation from the audience.
Photos by Tom Myles and Mitch Traphagen