David Korevaar is appointed CU College of Music’s second distinguished professor

Two recent CDs illustrate his breadth and depth as performerSept. 18 at 3:50 p.m.

By Peter Alexander Sept. 18 at 3:50 p.m.

The University of Colorado, Boulder, has appointed prof. of piano David Korevaar as a distinguished professor.

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Distinguished Professor of Piano David Korevaar

Korevaar, the Helen and Peter Weil Faculty Fellow in the College of Music, joined the CU faculty in 2000. He is one of 106 CU faculty to receive that honor, and only the second faculty member from the College of Music. The first was former director of bands Allan McMurray in 2004.

According to the announcement from the university, Korevaar said “I got a phone call out of the blue from [University of Colorado president Mark] Kennedy. While I’d been fully aware that my name had been put in the pool, I did not expect the honor to come to me given the amazing contributions of so many in so many fields in the CU system. I’m completely blown away at the support I received from friends and colleagues both within and outside the university.”

Illustrating the remarkable breadth of Korevaar’s performing career, two CDs by him have recently be released by MSR Classics. Both come from relatively unexplored areas of the repertoire, reflecting Korevaar’s adventurous and energetic approach to music as well as the depth of his interpretations.

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Liebermann discLowell Liebermann: Piano Music, Volume 3: Nocturnes No. 8–11, Variations on a Theme of Schubert, op. 100; Two Impromptus, op. 131; and Piano Sonata No. 3, op. 82. David Korevaar, piano. MSR Classics MS 1688.

Korevaar has now released three volumes of the piano music of Lowell Liebermann, a contemporary pianist and composer who lives in New York and teaches composition at Mannes College/The New School of Music. The latest volume features both shorter and longer works, ranging from impromptus of about four and five minutes length, and a sonata that is nearly 18 minutes.

The four nocturnes on the recording are filled with sparkling flourishes that recall the legacy that Chopin and the Irish composer John Field first bestowed on the genre. Korevaar’s restraint and transparency serves these passages well, but the delicacy of the decoration conceals a much more complex texture that Korevaar makes audible beneath the ornamentation.

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Lowell Liebermann

Liebermann’s Variations on a Theme of Schubert is for me the most intriguing work on the disc. Based on the lovely and uncomplicated song Heidenröslein (Little heather rose), the variations start with a simple statement of the song theme, then goes immediately into a variation that declares, regardless of the origin of the theme, that this is not music from an 1820s Viennese salon.

The music becomes increasingly distant from Schubert’s world, until the theme seems to disappear, with only passing diatonic passages to suggest where the journey started. Liebermann uses traditional variation techniques, including imitation and sequence, as he builds ever more complex and dense variations. Then approaching the end, the melody emerges again from the complex texture, and his briefly heard in its pure state.

All of this is easily described and followed because Korevaar’s playing is so clean, the texture is always transparent, and the emotional profile is so well defined. It is hard to imagine the piece played better.

The same is true of the Sonata, which however requires a different set of pianistic tools. This is adventurous pianism: Korevaar in his liner notes refers to a “frenzied outburst” of “desperate virtuosity” in the “wildly virtuosic finale.” If it sounds less than frenzied on the disc, you can attribute that to Korevaar’s calm control and his mastery of the necessary virtuosity.

Fan’s of Liebermann’s music or contemporary piano works will want to own this disc, which presents an attractive variety of works, beautifully played.

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Perrachio coverLuigi Perrachio: Nove Poemetti/25 Preludi per pianoforte. David Korevaar, piano. MSR Classics MS 1710.

Korevaar’s most recent recording certainly exemplifies his adventurous approach to repertoire. He came across the music of Luigi Perrachio, a mostly forgotten Italian pianist, music teacher and composer from the first half of the 20thcentury, in the CU Music Library and was immediately intrigued. In this, the first recording of Perrachio’s Nove Poemetti (Nine little poems) and 25 Preludes, Korevaar makes a very strong case for the composer and his music.

Described as an “Italian Impressionist,” Perrachio wrote music that shows the influence of Debussy and Ravel, both of whom the composer met in Paris. This influence is shown in the poetic titles of the Nove Poemetti, including Sera (Evening), Zefiro(Zephyr) and Danzatrici a Lesbos (Dancers in Lesbos), as well as the atmospheric and somewhat dreamy style of the music.

These impressionistic sketches are the most successful pieces in the set, clearly reflecting their titles in music of gentle expressivity. Other movements (La notte del morti, The night of the dead) seem more abstracted, less tethered to an image or expressive current.

In contrast to the Poemetti, the Preludes are more direct, not nearly as delicate or atmospheric. The program notes describe the Preludes as muscular and neo-classical in style; to me, they recalled the Preludes of Chopin rather than those of Bach or any Classical-era composers.

Korevaar’s playing captures the mood and expression of each of the miniatures on the disc. His delicate touch and transparency of sound are particularly effective in the Nove Poemetti, but he is more than up to the stronger profile and more robust style of the preludes.

These are all attractive and worthwhile pieces that deserve a place in the repertoire. I hope that Korevaar’s beautiful and convincing performances will bring Perrachio to wider notice and his accessible, smaller works find a place on piano recital programs.