The Dallas Morning News - Tuesday, October 20, 1987
By John Ardoin / Music Critic of The Dallas
FORT WORTH - Whatever reservations one harbored concerning Dimitris Sgouros' appearance here last spring with the Dallas Symphony, the young Greek pianist (who just turned 18) left no room for quibbling this past weekend. He returned to the North Texas area as soloist with the Fort Worth Symphony on Saturday and Sunday in the Prokofiev Third Piano Concerto. John Giordano conducted.
To say that his two performances of the Prokofiev - and I heard both - were electrifying only hints at the startling impact of his playing on this occasion. This was the first local encounter with Sgouros in 20th-century music, and it was breathtakingly evident that his powerful hands, his fleet technique, his searching mind and his keen musical sensitivity are as relevant and illuminating in contemporary music as they are in Romantic music.
He leapt into the maelstrom of the first movement with a daredevil force and speed I had previously only encountered in this concerto with Soviet pianist Alexander Toradze. But like Toradze's, Sgouros' playing was not merely a matter of awesome velocity. There were equal amounts of clarity that provided a full accounting of the music's detail and its structure.
Balancing these were hushed, exquisitely molded episodes that added deep musical substance to this extraordinary experience and made this Prokofiev Third more than simply a matter of fire and fury. The orchestra and Giordano were one with him, matching Sgouros' bravura every step of the way - no small thing.
After the final burst of high-tension octaves and chords that brings the final movement of the Prokofiev to a crushing close, Sgouros was entitled to retire from the stage with honor and to savor his unbridled ovation. But the concerto seemed little more than a warm-up for his coltish virtuosity. He returned for the two encores - first the quietude of a Rachmaninov prelude, which he coddled with warmth and melting phrases, and then Liszt's dazzling paraphrase on the Quartet from Verdi's Rigoletto.
The Liszt was given a performance that was filled with risk-taking. Sgouros extended himself, his technique and the music to a point most pianists never dream of. Performed with so prodigious a freedom and impetus, the Liszt became a true improvisation, as though the music had never been heard or attempted before.
Unwilling to completely trust my ears, I returned for his second appearance on Sunday afternoon; and if anything, the concerto was more compelling and demonic. This time it led to three encores, including another Liszt paraphrase, one of the waltz sequences in the Kernesse Scene of Gounod's Faust.
The Faust paraphrase is rarely encountered for a very good reason. Next to Liszt's Don Juan Fantasy, it is one of the most grueling tests ever devised for a pianist. Even on those rare occasions when someone has the nerve to program either, they are played with a gingerliness that skirts their cruel challenges. Not so with Sgouros. Again, he plunged headlong into the music and sent tidal waves of scales and octaves rebounding through the hall, which submerged the audience in an enveloping flood of pyrotechnics.
To be fair, there was more to these concerts than Sgouros' feats of legerdemain, including a tense, well-made and theatrical performance of Tchaikovsky's Hamlet Fantasy Overture by Giordano and the orchestra. There was also Tchaikovsky's ever-green Serenade for Strings, but it was surprisingly limp and limited in color after the strength and enterprise brought to the Hamlet Overture.
It is worth marking on your calendar the date of Feb. 7, 1988. The concert, which was taped for broadcast by KERA-FM (90.1), will be aired then, and anyone who missed out on the real thing can experience the wonders of Sgouros second-hand that Sunday afternoon.
Hear the broadcast of the Prokofiev 3rd Concerto from Fort Worth 1st movement 2nd movement 3rd movement
Sgouros also joined the Dallas Symphony in Spring 1987, bringing the house down with colossal performances of the Tchaikovsky 1st Piano Concerto!
The Dallas Morning News -July 13, 1985
PRODIGY STRUTS PIANISTIC STUFF
15-year-old Sgouros blazes through Mozart with DSO
Author: John Ardoin
Publish Date: July 13, 1985
Dimitris Sgouros interview on Dallas/Fort Worth radio station WRR Classical 101.1 FM
Dimitris Sgouros on the original cadenzas he composed for several of Mozart's Piano Concertos, plus a scintillating performance of the cadenza section of Beethoven's 1st Piano Concerto
Back to Home Page - Free MP3 Music by Dimitris Sgouros