Last Saturday the 400-seat Ruth Lilly Performance Hall in Uindy's Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center actually seemed cavernous. About 20 souls showed up for the clearly not-well-hyped duo recital featuring the American Pianists Association's 2013 finalist Sara Daneshpour, partnering with Butler faculty member Anna Briscoe in a two-piano version of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30 (nowadays with "Rach 3" as its moniker). Clearly the sponsor, Winter and Sons Piano Recitals, needs to acquire a PR person to get the word out, for their own best interest as well as the public's.
Briscoe skillfully played the score's orchestral part on a nine-foot Steinway located immediately in back of Daneshpour's seven-foot Mason & Hamlin, for which Winter and Sons is the authorized dealer. Daneshpour had no trouble dominating the sonic aspect as Rachmaninoff had cast his orchestra in muted colors. In fact, this native of D.C. had no trouble doing anything regarding getting through the challenges of this most difficult of common piano concerto scores, providing one of the most exciting readings I've ever heard.
Daneshpour's playing becomes exciting when she adds shape to her often fleet, upper register passage work. Nuances of tempo and dynamics are always there and always under complete control. Holding her arms above the keys before she's ready to pounce, she never fails to deliver Rachmaninoff's music through those thickets of notes. Plus she chose to play the more difficult of the two first-movement cadenzas the composer supplied.
Credit must certainly be given also to Briscoe's playing; the composer does call for orchestral virtuosity at places throughout his three-movement work, and Briscoe was there to deliver them in complete unity with her partner.
Prior to the break, Daneshpour played three solo works: Mozart's Sonata No. 10 in C, K. 330, the Op. 33 set of Chopin Mazurkas and Chopin's lovely, one-of-a-kind Barcarolle in F-sharp Minor, Op. 60. With each of these, she displayed more lyric aspects of her talent. I had cited Daneshpour as the equal of 2013 APA Fellow Sean Chen during the 2012 APA "Premiere" series of recitals. This recital with Daneshpour and Briscoe may have topped them all . . . making it a near tragedy that so few piano lovers "got the word." Oct. 3; Christel DeHaan Center Uindy