After 26 years of absence, pianist Ivo Pogorelich returned to play at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival on July 25, 2011.
The concert took place in the rectorʼs palace where the arrangement of the seating was quite unique compared to the arrangement at any concert I have been to.
Seating was made available on the same level as Pogorelich, while an open hallway on the upper level overlooked the atrium, which allowed the audience to see the performance from above. The stairs leading to the upper level were also entirely occupied; it was truly a full house.
Everyone quieted down in anticipation for the start. Mr. Pogorelich took time to make his appearance, but as soon as he emerged, people went wild. I had never seen a performance by Mr. Pogorelich, but from what I had heard, he was not the typical performer. As Ivo sat down, he seemed very composed. He took a few seconds to collect his thoughts, and began to play. I have heard many of his recordings, but they cannot compare to the live performance.
Not only did he play the piano with emotion, but the way he performed was unique. Following a ﬁnished phrase, Ivo would lift his hand from the keyboard, and slowly turn his closed hand towards himself, taking the time to soak in the moment, before continuing the next phrase. Each note was played just as loud or soft as it should have been. The contrast yet evenness of the notes showed great control and power in his playing. Pogorelichʼs body language, as well as his emotions, reﬂected that, as the piece was played, he was also playing a story in his mind. He continued to stimulate the crowd throughout the performance.
The concert program was as follows:
Sonata No 2 in B ﬂat minor, Op. 35
Grave - Doppio movimento
Marche funčbre: Lento
Mephisto Waltz No. 1, S 514
Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48, No. 1
Sonata in H minor, S 178 *
Unfortunately, Lisztʼs Sonata in H was not played due to the rain.
I must admit that it is often difficult for me to endure such a long concert, but this concert seemed to be over in a ﬂash (and I was standing). Since there was no photography allowed during the performance, capturing a photo of the pianist in action was impossible.
Instead, photographers waited outside of his dressing room to catch a glimpse of him as he walked to the ofﬁcial Dubrovnik Summer Festival car and left.
I have read a few reviews of previous Pogorelich concerts and have found an array of reactions. Many critics concentrate on his appearance or on his unusual musical interpretation, rather than focus on the master at work. As I have studied piano for only 12 years, I cannot say that I know enough to critique someone of his caliber, but in short, Pogorelichʼs performance blew my mind and exceeded my expectations ten times over.
- Ivo Bach