Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Soloist Adds a Bit of Self to Concerto

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Soloist Adds a Bit of Self to Concerto

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicole Johnson McGill, Times-Union staff writer

Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 premiered 100 years ago in Moscow, and since then the Russian composer's piece has been performed and recorded countless times. So how does a musician add a personal touch to such a familiar masterpiece?

"The whole process of interpretation works as if the music passes through the filter of the interpreter's personality and sensitivity and comes out with a personal stamp," said Arnaldo Cohen, the Brazilian-born pianist who will perform the romantic concerto at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 in the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra's Masterworks Series.

"Apart from technique and knowledge and the ability to play piano well, you have to have the personality and the sensitivity. This is what matters," said Cohen, who began studying piano and violin at age 5. "It's impossible even for me to play something twice in the same way because I feel different every day."

Cohen was the first-prize winner of the 1972 Busoni International Piano Competition. In addition to his numerous solo appearances, he has performed in the Amadeus Piano Trio and with the Lindsay Quartet, Chilingirian Quartet, Orlando Quartet and Vanbrugh Quartet.

When the pianist takes the stage in Jacksonville, he will be reuniting with a good friend, symphony music director Fabio Mechetti.

"When you ask any [solo] musician what is paradise in this profession, I think it would be to work with a wonderful orchestra in a wonderful concert hall with a wonderful conductor," said Cohen. "Fabio gives importance to the soloist."

Mechetti is equally impressed with Cohen, calling him one of the finest pianists playing today, with a style perfect for performing romantic pieces.

Mechetti said he works well with soloists because he knows when to back off and give them space. …

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