The Dallas Morning News - July 13, 1985

15-year-old Sgouros blazes through Mozart with DSO

Author: John Ardoin   
Publish Date: July 13, 1985


The Dallas Symphony's summer Discovery Series at the Majestic Theatre reached its midpoint on Thursday evening, and for many that concert has provided a discovery that will not soon be forgotten. Dimitris Sgouros, the 15-year-old pianistic wonder from Greece, returned for his second engagement in town. Word of his fiery debut here last April and his prodigal playing at that time had obviously been widespread, and the Majestic was standing room only.

This time around Sgouros (with guest conductor Leon Fleisher) unfolded new dimensions to his artistry with a performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466, which proved his interior values are equal to the exterior flash of his playing. The D minor is a big piece, although many try to scale it down to more almost-chamber dimensions. Sgouros played it for its full worth, with rich, billowing phrases and fleet but muscular passage-work.

Yet, there was a caress of great gentleness when the music demanded it, particularly in its remarkable second movement, a manic section that swings from tenderness to impetuosity. Though there were occasional blurs in Sgouros' sweeping approach and turns that would have been more shapely had they been more vocally conceived and had less snap, there was no doubting his exceptional ability to acclimatize himself to the Mozartian terrain, and to stake an impressive claim on the manly Mozart.

The response from the audience was immediate and prolonged and yielded two encores -- the Etude Op. 25, No. 4 of Chopin and Liszt's hair-raising 8th Transcendental Etude, "Wilde Jagd' (or "Wild Hunt'). The Chopin was all elegance, a sigh of a performance filled with a magical lift and twists of rubato. The Liszt was an unleasing of demons and night creatures, staggering in its accuracy (no small thing in this fistful of notes) and in the imagination Sgouros brought to it.

If you were not among the fortunate who heard this concert, it will be broadcast Monday evening at 8 p.m. over WRR-FM. And mark next May 5 in red. On that date, Sgouros returns to Dallas for a full-length recital under the auspices of the Dallas Symphony. And then he will return with the orchestra during the 1986-87 season.

Fleisher (one of the few pianists-turned-conductor who makes a podium seem truly like home turf) trimmed back the DSO a bit too much for the size of K. 466. (More low strings were needed.) But he was one with Sgouros throughout, and partnered him with all the alertness and care one would expect from this exemplary artist.

Fleisher had begun the evening with the suite from Handel's Water Music and closed with Bizet's disarming Symphony in C. For some reason Fleisher decided to dust off and make public again an old curio -- conductor Hamilton Harty's version of the Water Music. This was sort of like appearing in public in spats.

It was through the Harty version that the Water Music was first known, but it is difficult to take in this dated version today; it is like a tree minus its foliage. The pieces within the suite have been strangely reordered, and there are none of the niceties of ornamentation that are part-and-parcel of the original.

As for the Bizet, if you grew up knowing it in the concert hall, Thursday's performance was decidedly on the lean side. But if, like me, you first discovered it in George Balanchine's loving choreography with the smaller sound of a ballet pit orchestra, everything seemed quite in order. It was given an airy, lyrical outing, highlighted by some masterful solo playing by oboist Stephen Lickman.


Dimitris Sgouros interview on Dallas/Fort Worth radio station WRR Classical 101.1 FM



 Dimitris Sgouros on the original cadenzas he composed for several of Mozart's Piano Concertos, plus a scintillating performance of the cadenza section of Beethoven's 1st Piano Concerto



Back to Home Page - Free MP3 Music by Dimitris Sgouros