NOVEMBER 21, 2021, 3:00 PM



The young, gifted, and promising pianist Albert Cano Smit opened his recital for Matinee Musicale Cincinnati before an intimate group of music devotees with Robert Schumann’s Kreisleriana, a work that the German composer considered his best creation for the keyboard.

The young Schumann was 28 when he penned this complex work, and he could not have found a better fictional soul mate than the half-mad, or maybe just plain eccentric Kapellmeister Kreisler from one of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s inky-dark tales.

Kreisler, a mad musical genius plagued by extreme neurotic vulnerability was not that far removed from the composer’s budding Florestan/Eusebius split personality. In Kreisleriana this duality is given musical life in a work in which nearly each one of the movements is characterized by sudden, even blunt changes from the hauntingly lyrical to the jaggedly dramatic.

What an interesting coincidence that the English Suite No. 1 by J. S. Bach dates to the year 1723, when the composer was 28 years old, just as young Schumann was when in 1838 he composed Kreisleriana, over a century later!

While much, even if not all of the emphasis Schumann put into his work is one of youthful impetuousness and virtuosic speed, with many of the sections marked fast, faster, and fastest, Bach’s creation – brought to life at the same age as Schumann’s – is by contrast all mature serenity and stately moderation throughout its ten sections, even those characterized by lively dance tempi.

Cano Smit’s playing of the Bach opus following Schumann’s provided a peaceful respite after the Romantic turmoil of the Kreisleriana.

Elsewhere in the program an elegant Polonaise by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, the eldest son of Johann Sebastian Bach signaled a move away from strict Baroque formality and towards the beginnings of a Classicism with roots in Nationalistic music.

At the end of the enormously varied program Albert Cano Smit surprised the listeners with an unusual choice: three Danzas Argentinas by the Argentinian Alberto Ginastera, yet another youthful work (opus 2) written by an immensely promising composer aged 27 (another near coincidence) and one with a proclivity for spicy dissonances and immensely challenging technical hurdles for the pianist.

The group of three folk-inspired dances encompasses a chacarera titled Danza del viejo boyero (“Dance of the Old Herdsman”), an intriguingly poly-tonal piece in which the left hand does curlicues on the black keys while the right hand remains busy on the whites.

The gorgeously melancholy Danza de la moza donosa (“Dance of the Donosa Girl”) followed, reminding one of how Ginastera, when he put his mind to it, could spin a haunting melody.

The for-men-only Danza del gaucho matrero (“Dance of the Outlaw Cowboy”), a raucous malambo, gave the recital a wildly energetic ending.

Cano Smit impressed with his technical ability, although at times one hoped for a gentler approach to some of the music. Perhaps with growing maturity this energetic young artist will find a way to settle into easier tempi when needed and a wider range of dynamics, both of which would allow the music he plays more breathing room, and most importantly, for the audience, a deeper emotional connection to it.

One caveat for our Matinee Musicale Cincinnati friends: you need to provide program notes. Having a “q and a” session with the artist(s) after the fact is no substitute for a little introduction to the music being played in your programs.

Matinee Musicale Cincinnati’s next recital will feature the lovely soprano Nicole Cabell on Sunday January 30, 2022 at 3 PM in a program that will include songs by Maurice Ravel, Ricky Ian Gordon, Maurice Delage, and Fernando Obradors, with Donna Loewy at the piano.

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