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Grigorios Zamparas - February 17 Concert

Well, our Program Chairperson, Barbara Roth-Donaldson, has done it again! She found a wonderful performer and brought him to a capacity crowd of very appreciative Sarasota Music Club listeners.

Dr. Grigorios Zamparas, a faculty member of the University of Tampa and an estimable pianist of Greek origin, gave a concert of heavyweight selections. Starting off with Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata Op. 53, he showed plenty of musical “chops” - technical facility, strength, and musicality. His interpretations throughout the morning program were traditional. Tempos were brisk, especially in the final Rondo of the Beethoven, but no off-the-wall craziness here.

His second selection, Franz Liszt’s "Valse Impromptu in A-flat Major," allowed a lot of impetuous fluctuation of speed and loudness in expressing its’ joie de vivre. That was followed by Liszt’s "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6," another knuckle-buster. The program closed after an hour and several thousand notes, with Robert Schumann’s "Symphonic Etudes, Op 13," leaving the audience very satisfied, as evidenced by the enthusiastic standing ovation. This listener might have liked some quiet Faure or Satie to provide a contemplative ‘break’ in the program, but that is quibbling...the man had only an hour, after all.

As a flutist, I have the luxury of playing my own instrument, always familiar and in excellent condition. Pity the concert pianist, who must play on the instrument provided, no matter its provenance or condition. Consider: the pianist commits many hours a day over years of training, to discipline the fingers to perform with absolutely even ‘touch’ at all dynamic levels and any speed. Right hand, left hand, pinkie finger, whatever...they all must meet the demands of the composer. There was a prolonged section in the Symphonic Etudes where a melody was being played with the last three fingers of the right hand while a counter-melody was being played with the thumb and first in the same hand, at the same time as the left hand was doing a rapid rhythmic rumble of harmonic support. Each melody in the right hand was given its own shape of expressive dynamics, its own musical integrity. (Imagine a basketball player dribbling two balls at the same time, and then simultaneously sinking two shots, while eluding a defending opponent who is trying to strip either or both of the balls from him. Hmm, there would have to be two baskets, side by side...well, maybe not my best sports analogy, but you get the point...what he was doing was extremely difficult!)

Now, the piano itself is another matter. Each key controls a complicated mechanism of artfully shaped bits of maple wood, supple leather, hard felt, cotton webbing and steel spring, any one of which can wear over time, changing its performance characteristics. Likewise the damping mechanism, and the very strings themselves. Multiply this by 88, spread over the ‘thousands of notes,’ and you can see there are myriad opportunities for mechanical problems for the performer to overcome.

Zamparas rose to the twin challenges of the repertoire and the instrument. Bravo!
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