Vladimir Feltsman, Piano
August 8, 2016, Martin Theatre, Ravinia, Highland Park, IL
Brahms – Four Ballades, Op. 10
Brahms – Two Rhapsodies, Op. 79
Mussorgsky – Pictures at an Exhibition
Last night, I was fortunate enough to see Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, as well as some selections from Brahms, performed live by brilliant pianist, Vladimir Feltsman. Feltsman was born in Russia in 1952, and he made his piano debut at age 11 with the Moscow Philharmonic. He continued his study at Moscow’s Tchaikovsky State Conservatory in 1969, later studying conducting at the Moscow and Leningrad Conservatories. In 1979, after years of growing increasingly frustrated with the Soviet Union’s communist suppression of artistic freedom, Feltsman applied for an exit visa. The communists responded by banning him from giving public performances and suppressing his recordings. After eight years of this, he was allowed to leave the Soviet Union and move to America, where he soon made his debut performance at Carnegie Hall. He is now an American citizen, and he currently lives in upstate New York with his wife. All this to say, the man is a brilliant musician and a lover and defender of freedom.
Ravinia is probably the finest music venue in the Chicago area, if not the entire country. Ravinia opened in northside Chicago suburb Highland Park in 1904, and it has been the summer residency of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1936. It even hosted one of George Gershwin’s final public performances of Rhapsody in Blue. It is also the oldest outdoor music festival in the United States. The venue is situated mere blocks from Lake Michigan in a lovely older suburban area. The park has a covered pavilion with seats, as well as a much larger lawn area, complete with old oak, maple, and birch trees, among many others. The site also features the Martin Theatre, which has beautiful prairie style architecture, stained glass windows, and chandeliers, as well as wonderful motifs painted on the ceiling. It is a wonderful example of early 20th century prairie style architecture. The park also includes multiple high class restaurants with excellent cuisine, with a menu that changes for each performance.