Drew Petersen
Young pianist returns and wows them again

Young pianist returns and wows them again
If the opening concert of the 2010 Shelter Island Friends of Music season is any
indication, we can expect an extraordinary series of musical performances this
year. On Sunday afternoon, a standing-room-only crowd welcomed 16-year-old
pianist Drew Petersen back to the Island after a triumphant debut recital in 2005,
when he was just 11.
Those in the audience who had been present at that event were anxious to hear
how a child with obvious talent becomes a mature musician with an individual style
and a distinctive musical personality. No one was disappointed.
Mr. Petersen's amazing range allowed him to perform works from the 17th to the
20th centuries, with a long stop in the 19th century to honor the bicentennials of
Schumann and Chopin, both of whom were born in 1810.
After a straightforward warm-up with a Bach Toccata, he played a Humoreske by
Robert Schumann that showed his genuine understanding of the German romantic
movement in a lyrically lovely performance. With Mr. Petersen's evolving style, he
plays the music as the composer intended. There is none of the mannered,
exaggerated choreography of many of today's piano virtuosos. The calm focus he
brings to the score adds gravitas to this sometimes lightweight piece.
Five works by Chopin formed the centerpiece of the recital and elicited the finest,
most idiomatic playing; from the empty-headed (but challenging ) Andante Spianato
to the sublime Etude op.10, #11.
The printed program ended with the Variations on an Original Theme by the Polish
composer Karel Szymanowski, a rarely heard but substantial piece, filled with
occasional melodic references to both Brahms and Rachmaninoff. The cheering
audience demanded an encore and was rewarded with a restrained but rhapsodic
performance of Chopin's D-flat Nocturne.
Many people at Sunday's recital wondered where the young pianist's career will
take him. But it is clear that this gifted performer has already matured into a serious
musician with a potentially brilliant future.

Shelter Island Reporter
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