Four years after starting my campaign (in THE HINDU's New Delhi edition) for standardizing longer and more substantial recitals of Western classical music by visiting foreign musicians , I found that the scenario hadn't changed to any significant extent. Later on I would be obtaining some fresh insights in this context ; but in 1990, I still believed that the local organizers weren't trying seriously to influence the visiting artists in this regard, although they all seemed to appreciate my point of view.
So I continued to put a lot of pressure on them. However, not wishing to harm their image in the Capital's Western music circles (which would have been extremely counter-productive), I always tried to moderate my criticism in the newspaper. And also, rather than flogging the issue frequently in specific contexts, it was more tactful to discuss it in general terms now and then, particularly when writing a rave review in some exceptional case, like the following :-
16 November 1990
Music flows like liquid gold
With visiting musicians from the West usually tending to give extremely short recitals lasting just about an hour or so (and that too, split up into two halves by a long intermission), lovers of Western art music in New Delhi seldom get a chance to leave the concert hall with any great sense of fulfillment. And of course, the better the music, the greater the frustration! This practice of measuring out the music in an ounce glass may be all right in the West, where its art music overflows ; but here in India, where one does not have many opportunities to hear it in live concerts, this is just not appropriate.
It is a pity that our well-meaning organizers -- to whom we are truly grateful for arranging whatever concerts we do have -- never seem to think of taking up this aspect seriously with the visitors, who may well be glad to oblige us with much longer concerts, if only they knew what positive response they would get from us.
Anyway, the piano recital given by Roman Rudnytsky from America at the India International Center last Monday evening (organized by the IIC, the Delhi Music Society and the US Information Service) turned out to be a rare exception. The pianist was very generous by the usual standard, and performed for well over 90 minutes, with a mercifully short intermission, in a full and enthusiastic house. And his music was well worth hearing, every bit of it. His sound is rich, and it is soulful. His mastery of technique is admirable, and enables him to play the most complicated scores with the greatest ease. His virtuosity is matched by his sensitivity, and together they produce a warmth which makes the music glow.
Rudnytsky rendered a Schubert impromptu (Op. 90/4), a Beethoven sonata (Op. 110), and extracts from an Albeniz suite (Iberia) in the first half of the concert. These were followed by Copland's Piano Sonata, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, and Chopin's Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise (Op. 22). Each of these works has its own inimitable beauty, which was brought out with great clarity by the master musician. The power and vigour of his performance are awesome, but they are tempered by the delicate and caressing quality of his touch. All these elements blend into a style which makes the music flow like liquid gold.
Rudnytsky seemed extremely relaxed and confident, playing all the chosen works with abandon, never once looking at a score for support, obviously having got them all by heart. Living far away from the great centers of Western art music, I am not very familiar with some of the works I heard on Monday. I cannot really say whether the pianist did play perfectly all the time, or skipped a note here or missed a beat there. But I can truthfully declare that the music lifted my spirit sky-high, and bound me in a spell from which I am still to recover.
Recalling the above article a quarter-century after writing it, I couldn't help turning to YouTube to re-discover Roman Rudnytsky , if possible. And what do you think I found? Solid gold, I assure you! Just take a look yourself :