Features
Review:
Abeyaratne Delights Audience

Sri Lankan Pianist at Jacksonville University

Pianist Harsha Abeyaratne stunned the audience at Jacksonville University’s Terry Concert Hall, Saturday Evening, April 9th. His ambitions program included the chilling Sonata in A minor by Franz Schubert, and other works by Brahms, Debussy, Liszt, and Prokofiev.

The highlight of the recital has to have been his masterfully compelling reading of the Third Piano Sonata of American composer Robert Muczynski. His total command of the work, with all of its intricacies and complexities, made for a stunned and appreciative response. His handling of the extreme sonorities was exact and scientific in a way which made this work easy to hear and comprehend. His playing was clear, and the work’s monumental technical challenges proved to be child’s play under the skillful hands of this musical craftsman.

Abeyaratne also showed musicianship and taste in his reading of Schubert’s Sonata in A minor, a work with a tragic and emotional core. His care in the Sonata’s first movement was heartfelt. His second movement was graceful and lyrical, and the third movement’s often treacherous technical challenges proved no match for Abeyaratne’s pianism. He handled all of Schubert’s pianistic challenges with ease, especially the closing octaves which were as fast and clear as they deserve to be heard.

Abeyaratne opened his sophisticated program with three of Debussy’s Preludes which were performed with charm and wit. While his reading of General Lavine was perhaps over-romanticized in its use of rubato, the message of the quirky clown was unmistakably clear. Liszt’s Sonetto 123 del Petrarca, as well as Brahms Fantasy (Op. 116) got a warm, romantic, full-bodied performance.

Abeyaratne capped his recital with Prokofiev’s Toccata. A thrilling conclusion to a wonderfully presented performance.

Harsha Abeyaratne offered one of his own compositions as an encore to a grateful audience which did not want him to end his performance ... his simple work base on a Sri Lankan folksong. The piece was charming and delightful.

Abeyaratne is on the faculty of Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio - they are lucky to have him, and those who attended his recital at Jacksonville University know precisely why.

Scott Watkins

 

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