Pianist's Debut Stays Rooted in the Classics
August 13, 2004
MUSIC REVIEW | DEJAN LAZIC
By ALLAN KOZINN
When Dejan Lazic made his New York debut on Wednesday afternoon at the Frick Collection, it was as a pianist, although judging from his program biography, he might as easily have turned up with a clarinet. Mr. Lazic, born in Zagreb, Croatia, in 1977, has won competitions playing both instruments, and he has made some headway as a composer as well, having written a string quartet for one of Mstislav Rostropovich's 70th-birthday concerts.
Clearly, Mr. Lazic keeps these sides of his musical persona separate, at least to a degree. He devoted his program fully to mainstream keyboard classics, works by Mozart, Chopin, Brahms and Liszt. Yet there was something of the composer in his playing as well. Two Chopin Ballades — the G minor (Op. 23, No. 1) and the A flat (Op. 47, No. 3) — were full of poetic, shapely phrasing and vivid dynamic effects that made this familiar music sound fresh, spontaneous and impassioned.
Mr. Lazic offered a similarly thoughtful account of the Brahms "Klavierstücke" (Op. 118), performed with an organic sweep, as if its six works were inextricably linked. There were occasional misjudgments. After two wonderfully fleet Intermezzos, the Ballade had moments that were oddly ponderous. But Mr. Lazic soon recaptured the spark with which he opened the set.
In two works by Mozart — the Variations on a Minuet by Jean-Pierre Duport (K. 573) and the Sonata in C (K. 330) — Mr. Lazic produced the clear, crisp textures that Classicism demands, but he did not restrain the modern piano's dynamics or his own interpretive imagination, which has an impetuous streak.
Oddly, the score in which that quality should have shone brightest — Liszt's "Venezia e Napoli," the final work on the program — was often simply blustery. Even so, the sheer technical power Mr. Lazic brought to it exerted its own fascination, and in his better moments he brought an almost orchestral coloration to the music. Having by then heard him do better things in better music, a listener was prepared to accept these more superficial attractions on their own terms.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times