Georgy Tchaidze signs his debut CD for Jayne Murdoch

Concert Review: Pianist puts on unforgettable concert

"The world learned to say Tchaikovsky; now it will learn to say Tchaidze!” said one ecstatic audience member at the North Okanagan Community Concert Association’s first concert of the 2011/12 season. And I agree.

The world learned to say Tchaikovsky; now it will learn to say Tchaidze!” said one ecstatic audience member at the North Okanagan Community Concert Association’s first concert of the 2011/12 season. And I agree.

Georgy Tchaidze held everyone at the Performing Arts Centre in the palm of his hands Wednesday. The same could be said of NOCCA’s Steinway, even if it was “a little heavy” and sometimes failed to sustain a chord here and there.

Tchaidze’s touch was so delicate and exact that notes seemed to fall from his fingers. His entire body participated in his music. When he played Haydn, he became Haydn; when he played Beethoven, it was easy to picture the flamboyant maestro born back in the winter of 1770. Then again, German born Robert Schumann’s obsession with Clara Wieck, 21 years his junior, was expressed in every feature of this Russian born winner of Calgary’s prestigious Honens Competition.

Honens not only sponsors young musicians with unique, imaginative and informed talent, like Tchaidze, it also produces and markets their recordings.

Tchaidze’s debut CD of works by Franz Schubert was the door prize won by budding local pianist, Jayne Murdoch. As Tchaidze graciously signed her CD with a pen supplied by Honens, Murdoch beamed shyly, “He was really good.” Fellow pianists, Amy and Hana Friedman, who played in the foyer before the concert, agreed.

I’d go further: Tchaidze was superb. He took musical interpretation to a level rarely attained by one so young. He is 23. Off stage, he looks 12. But when he played Haydn’s mournful F minor variations which, in Tchaidze’s words, were written when one of Haydn’s “other womans” Maria Anna Von Genzinger died prematurely in 1793, he looked 61 (Haydn’s age at the time).

After the F minor variations, Tchaidze launched into Haydn’s more familiar Sonata 23 in F major. Credited with being instrumental in the evolution of the sonata form, Haydn would have been thrilled by Tchaidze’s technical skill and emotional maturity.

And his totally focused musical personality shone as brightly in Beethoven’s Sonata 5 and Schumann’s Grande Sonate dedicated to his beloved Clara. In his introduction to the latter, Tchaidze hinted at the difficulties experienced by Schumann and Wieck. However, true love triumphed and once Clara came of age, the couple married and produced six children.

“So they must have been happy,” said Tchaidze. Then he laughed at his naivety and added, “I think they were anyway.”

Generally, he was more comfortable playing than speaking.

At the beginning of the concert, he paced the stage somewhat nervously as he addressed the differences between Haydn and Beethoven, but by intermission he had settled into his role as host as well as artist, and entertained with a charming, reserved sense of humour.

When the audience begged an encore after his virtuoso performance of Schumann’s Grande Sonate, he said, “Enough German music,” and soothed piqued emotions with Rameau’s light textured French Gavotte. Then, just as he did at the end of each performance that evening, he rose quickly and unceremoniously, took a small, elegant bow and left the stage.

But Tchaidze will most assuredly be back, and when that happens, you can bet most of Vernon will be able to pronounce his name.

–– Christine Pilgrim reviews the North Okanagan Community Concert 2011-12 season for The Morning Star.

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