Ivan Ilić at La Fondation des Etats-Unis, Paris – John Cage’s In a Landscape, Debussy, Chopin & Scriabin, and Morton Feldman’s Palais de Mari

John Cage
In a Landscape
Préludes – Book I/No.6: Des pas sur la neige
Nocturnes – in B flat minor, Op.9/1; in E, Op.62/2
Preludes – in B, Op.16/1; in D flat, Op.31/1
Danses, Op.73 – II: Guirlandes
Morton Feldman
Palais de Mari

Ivan Ilić (piano)

Reviewed by: Michael Johnson

Reviewed: 29 May, 2015
Venue: Grand Salon, La Fondation des Etats-Unis, 15 Boulevard Jourdan, Paris

Ivan Ilić photo: Ker XavierSerbian-American pianist Ivan Ilić here created an evening of quiet, meditative music linking composers who flow naturally into one other. It was a trapeze act of connections. The recently renovated Grand Salon of the Fondation des Etats-Unis building provided the elegant art deco ambiance.

Ilić opened with John Cage’s slow and peaceful In a Landscape (1948), a 10-minute rumination of repetitious figures played in the register between p and pppp. The Steinway grand produced chilling resonances as Ilić worked the pedal to sustain notes and, in the Debussy, the subtle dynamics were comfortably executed. The two familiar Chopin Nocturnes provided historical points of reference and the Scriabin choices worked well as musical derivations from the earlier composer.

The most interesting feature of the recital was at the end, the rarely performed Palais de Mari (1986) by Morton Feldman, his last work for piano. Many pianists shy away from its special and inimitable touches. From Ilić’s hands dissonances are rendered so sensitively they seem to become consonances and did so for 25 minutes. Some pianists lack the patience to learn, memorise and present this and other elongated Feldman compositions. Ilić does all of this without hesitation.

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