THURSDAY, Sept. 15 — Yefim Bronfman, described by the Wall Street Journal as “a fearless pianist for whom no score is too demanding,” dials back the bombast for a rare solo recital at the Wharton Center Saturday.
The program is heavy in late 19th century and early 20th century composers. Bronfman will perform Bartók’s Suite, Op. 14; Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque, featuring the famous third movement, “Claire de lune”; Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 7 and Robert Schumann’s “Humoreske.” A common formal element, Bronfman explained, is the thread that holds this program together.
“I wanted to explore the form of suites, which started in Baroque times,” he said. “Suites from different times reflect back on Bach and Handel. The dance movements in the earlier works transfer to the suites of Bartok and Debussy. I wanted to explore that form, which I have never done before.”
Bronfman, 58, has performed and recorded with some of the world’s most celebrated orchestras, including the Vienna Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has presented solo recitals at Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall and has presented solo recitals in Europe and Asia.
While he enjoys playing bombastic concerti with large orchestras, Bronfman also appreciates the intimacy of solo recitals.
“It’s two wonderful experiences, however different they are,” he said. “Two days before I’ll be playing Tchaikovsky’s Second Piano Concerto in Kalamazoo. It’s definitely a very symphonic piece with a big orchestra.”
While Bronfman has tackled many of the best known pieces in the repertoire, the pianist confesses there are still plenty of works out there he would like to perform.
“We have a huge repertoire, and I have not played most of the pieces I want to play,” he said. “But unfortunately, you would need five or six lifetimes to get through all the repertoire you want to play. I do as much as I can.”
A proponent of new music, Bronfman has also premiered or recorded works by contemporary composers like Esa-Pekka Salonen and Magnus Lindberg.
“The ultimate experience for any performer is to work with a composer,” he said. “It’s a remarkable experience. It also makes it possible to understand the old music better, to see how the mind of a composer works.”
While his career takes him all over the world, Bronfman doesn’t find a lot of time for sightseeing.
“I try to practice; that’s the priority,” he said. “It’s a working tour. It’s not a tourist thing. If I have time, I’ll go out for a meal.”
With his international upbringing, Bronfman keeps an eye on world politics, especially in Russia and Israel.
“I read the newspapers and watch the news like everybody else,” he said. “I just hope they’ll be able to work out their differences in our lifetimes, especially in the Middle East.”
6:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18
Tickets start at $17
750 E. Shaw Lane, East Lansing
(517) 432-2000, whartoncenter.com