Sunday, January 2, 2011

Review - Jason Cutmore, pianist

Holy Trinity Anglican Church was packed this afternoon to hear Edmonton born pianist Jason Cutmore in a subtle program of primarily French, Spanish and Viennese Romantic music.

I know I should refer to him as "Mr. Cutmore", but his performance was so intimate that I feel I can call him by his first name.  Perhaps it was the warmth of the home town crowd, but it is rare to feel like you are listening to a performance invisibly in a musician's private space.  

Jason's quiet strength is immediately palpable in his ability to be truly authentic in his playing and it seemed like he had an inner dialogue with the music. Indeed if you were sitting close enough, you could hear Jason singing along!

A gifted ability for melody, rich textures and evenness of colour and tone gave a depth and maturity to the program of Satie, Albeniz, Severac, Pärt, and Schubert.  It is refreshing to hear a young artist have a soft and sensual touch instead of the mathematical intensity so often heard in young pianists.  This aspect made me want to hear some Chopin or Liszt ... oh wait, there's always "YouTube"!  Here is Jason playing Liszt's powerful Après une Lecture du Dante, from his Years of Pilgrimage, Book II: Italy.  

However, most striking to me about Jason's playing was his sense of liberty with time and metre - a rubato or robbed time in the truest sense which fills the listener with longing in each sustain.  This mature musical sensitivity was the most powerful part of the performance and was especially effective in the  haunting lyric of the Gnossienne No.1 by Erik Satie and Für Alina by Arvo Pärt.

A short word about Für Alina - a two page masterwork of Pärt's Tintinnabuli style, whose difficulty can be easily overlooked and was expertly and sensitively delivered.

Jason was most involved with the Cerdaña Suite by Déodat de Severac, especially the second movement The Mule-Drivers before the Christ of Llivia, which he personally described in the introduction as a "lamentation or meditation on a crucifix".  This section was particularly moving, and Jason obviously has a personal connection with this work; I hope he will record this rarely heard composer in the future.

Jason can be heard on his debut CD, an album of Spanish music by Manuel de Falla on Centaur Records, and in upcoming concerts in Ontario and the United States.

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