September 22, 2008


DANIEL ABRAMS, who has been hailed throughout Europe and the Americas (Alan Rich wrote of his Town Hall debut in 1957: he must henceforth be taken into account when lists of pianists most likely to succeed are being compiled) will be presenting a concert of music from his “Opera For Piano” series in New York City on Wednesday, Oct. 15th. Included will be the American premier of his Musical Portraits from Wagner’s ’Ring’ (a 45-minute work). He feels that in his lifetime of music making, this is his most important contribution to music, and that “Opera For Piano” (please see Abrams’ statement below) will be a great addition to the performing pianist’s repertoire. Marta Argerich recently heard some of Abrams’ music performed in Europe and requested its inclusion in her Lugano Piano Festival. To give you some idea of Abrams‘ rare abilities as a musician and pianist, the following is from a review he received from “The NY Herald Tribune” when he presented the complete cycle of Mozart piano sonatas at the Kaufman Y:

Mr. Abrams, as has been noted before, is born to the piano; he cannot help but make beautiful sounds and he brings to whatever he tackles not only musicianship, technique and interpretative prowess, but a very special kind of intellectual radiance that quite sets him apart. In short, the five sonatas heard contained a veritable galaxy of refinements -- indeed, the sort of refinements that seem slowly to be creeping out of contemporary piano playing.

The concert, at the Mannes College of Music, 150 West 85th St (between Columbus & Amsterdam Avenues) is on Wednesday, October 15th at 8 pm. There is no charge and seating begins at 7:30 pm.

It promises to be a glorious evening of music making and the re-discovery of a truly great pianist!

More about Abrams:

-REVIEW: of Daniel Abrams - Fantasie Variations on Tales of Love. Fantasie Variations on Richard Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde”; Chaconne on Dido's Lament from Henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas”; Fantasia on Carl Maria von Weber's "Der Freischutz”. (Tony Gualtieri, Classical Music Review)

In creating these operatic "fantasies," Abrams is reaching back to a tradition at least as old as Franz Liszt. Yet while Liszt attempted to reproduce the grandeur of opera, with clanging chords and breathtaking passages of high virtuosity, Abrams is aiming at something more intimate and, perhaps, more pianistic. In form, the Tristan Fantasie is a Theme and Variations; however, the music attempts to paraphrase the opera, moving from the Prelude to the Liebestod and taking in additional material from intervening sections of the opera. Thus Abrams, like Wagner, blends motifs to create new melodies as the piece moves through its variations. Abrams does not try to turn the piano into an orchestra, but rather resets the music as a work for piano. Hence textures are light and never reverberate into sonic mud. This also allows him to maintain a single dynamic flow throughout. When the "Tristan Chord" finally resolves, Abrams for the first time plays fortissimo, giving the moment a strong and appropriate dramatic impact. [...]

Daniel Abrams made his New York debut at Town Hall in 1957. He subsequently performed in venues throughout the world but gave up flying after he survived a crash landing whilst on tour in South America. He taught at Goucher College and at Johns Hopkins, and he now lives in Woodstock, New York. He has a marvelous feel for the piano, a delicate but assured touch, and a freedom from virtuosic affectation. He has recently completed a 45-minute paraphrase of Wagner's Ring cycle, which it is to be hoped will appear in a subsequent release. The present disk is a splendid collection of affectionate responses to music of an earlier era and is highly recommended.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at September 22, 2008 7:31 AM
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