MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL
Massacres by Israelis are much in the news these days. It should not, therefore, be startling to hear that a 19-year old Israeli Air Force officer brutally murdered the works of no less than four distinguished European composers. In what was falsely advertized as his "American debut," Ilan Rechtman, an Israeli pianist of no repute maintained his reputation last night at Temple Beth-El in Providence. (In point of fact, Mr. Rechtman's true debut in the United States occured on March 25, 1978, in Terre Haute, Indiana. Performing there at the American Legion Hall while a student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Mr. Rechtman was driven mercilessly from the stage in the midst of Rachmaninoff's Third Sonata by a noisy herd of patriots, crying "Kill the Commie Jewboy!" Traumatized by that event, Mr. Rechtman has since consented to perform only in Jewish churches, and has insisted that he be reviewed only by understanding Jewish psychiatrists. Thus, this review.
After interminable introductory remarksby a host of tasteless temple functionaries, Mr. Rechtman began with the Beethoven Thirty-two Variations in C Minor. Immediately I longed for the just-ended speeches. Beethoven composed the Variations in 1806, by which time he had become totally deaf. Had he been present last evening to witness the interpretation of his work by Mr. Rechtman, he would have thanked Heaven for his affliction. The only semblance the performance bore to a theme and variations was that the wretched performance by Mr. Rechtman left his audience retching.
There followed two Ballades by Frederick Chopin (n/e Fritz Chopolowczkch). The Number Two deserved its name. The preposterously pompous and inadequate program notes provided by an unnamed well-meaning but tasteless amateur at the temple indicated that the Ballade No. 2 was dedicated to "Monsieur Robert Schumann." As any Schumannophile knows, Schumann was a Kraut, and was always referred to by his friends and fans as “Herr Bob Schumann.” At any rate, the notes failed to indicate that after Freddie dedicated his piece to Bobbie (the two were notorious homosexuals—Chopin’s celebrated affair with George Sand was with George Sand, the bouncer at London’s East End Café., and not with the transvestite bull-dyke novelist, as many have until now believed). Bobbie in turn dedicated to the Polish Poof his famous "Kreisleriana." This piece was not, as many believe, dedicated to Fritz Kreisler, the Viennese violinist who often made a trio with our above-mentioned dynamic duo, cruising the seamier side of Krakow.
To conclude the first
part of the program, Rechtman chose his own Preludes, composed at the age
of 13, undoubtedly during some masturbatory fantasy. All of us have suffered
the excruciating discomfort of attending the pious declarations of a Bar-Mitzvh;
to have twenty minutes of autoerotic dissonance, the puerile ejaculations of a self-absorbed youth imposed upon us in the holy temple...this is too much.
Following the intermission, during which my body was compressed by at least three kilotons of soft perfumed Jewish breast, and my eyes strained by the reflections of the spotlights off thousands gold chains, Mr. Rechtman resumed his transgressions at the Steinway.
With the Liszt B-minor Sonata, Rechtman was right at home within the sanctuary of Temple Beth-El, whose walls have echoed with similar banal and empty sonorities for many decades. Once again, our anonymous annotator informs us that the first performance of this work was given by Liszt's pupil, Hans von Bulow. We can only add that while Hansie’s descendant (or should we say pretended descendant) our own dear Claus botched the job with his dear Sunny, Rechtman succeeded completely in butchering this masterpiece.
At the conclusion of
the Liszt, the audience sat in stone silence . One could not tell whether
it was result of their innate
ignorance and sloth, whether they were awaiting the final benediction and permission to leave, or whether the combined gaseous output of 750 flatulent Jews had resulted in yet another holocaust. Unable to endure the silence, the rabbi of the temple rushed forward, told three ribald stories whose bad taste exceeded even that of Rechtman, and announced that by popular demand the pianist would play as an encore his famed "Hatikvah Medley," during which the strains of the Israeli National Anthem are played with the right hand, while the left provides the contrapuntal accompaniment of the "Horst Wessel Song." At this, the audience rushed the stage, destroying the Steinway concert grand, the pride of the Avery Piano Company. The crowd became increasingly unruly, and as I fled the hall, I looked back to see the Temple President shielding with his own body the Ralph Lauren ark curtain and Dansk Torahs which he had himself donated for the event,
It was an evening that Providence will long remember.
Dr. Joel Altman, left, whose assistance made the concert possible with good friend Ilan Rechtman; and Dr. Herbert Rakatansky.
ISRAELI PIANIST DEBUTS AT TEMPLE BETH-EL
by Michael A. Ingall
Ilan Rechtman, a 19-year-old Israeli pianist, made his impressive American debut on the evening of November 17 at Temple Beth-El in Providence. The concert was dedicated to the memory of Betty Goldin Presser, who was for many years a leader in musical education at the temple.
Rechtman made his concert debut in Jerusalem at the age of 9, studied at Indiana University, and has appeared as a soloist with the Israel Philharmonic.
Rechtman proved himself to be an artist of great virtuosity. He opened with the Beethoven 32 Variations in C-Minor, displaying the fluid range of tempo and dynamics that are necessary to maintain continuity in this difficult piece.
There followed two Ballades, (Nos. 2 and 3) by Chopin. Rechtman moved with ease from eloquent lyricism to powerful and moving climaxes.
Next came his own Preludes, composed by the pianist when he was 13. The depth and complexity of this work, and the musicality shown in both their composition and performance were utterly astounding. Influences of Gershwin and Bartok were apparent. This work has been orchestrated, and will be performed shortly in Boston by the North Shore Philharmonic. It should be most interesting to hear.
Following intermission, the importance of seat location and acoustics became apparent. Moving to the rearof the hall, I was stunned by the increased clarity of tone in all octaves, most particularly in the bass, as the Steinway concert grand delivered a most impressive sound.
For the conclusion of his concert, Rechtman chose the Liszt B-Minor Sonata. His performance was comparable to that of any world-class virtuoso. Rechtman handled the dazzling runs and crashing sonorities of the Liszt with aplomb, displaying a dazzling and powerful technique that brought the audience to its feet.
The only fault one could find had to do with style. Rechtman seemed both ill at ease and aloof, and conveyed a hurried anxiety to be done with his performance as soon as possible. Had he left the stage between pieces and not rushed to play one work after the next, he might have created more of an air of mystery and excitement, both of which are necessary for the performance of Romantic works. Had these been present, the audience might not have rushed for the exits, leaving no time for a well-deserved encore. The sound, the interpretation, the technique were all magnificent. What was missing was a certain panache, flair, or showmanship that should develop with time and experience.
Providence was fortunate to be
the site of the American debut of this outstanding pianist.