A Recital Worth Hearing

Juho Pohjonen, Piano

This Sunday, April 18, at 7:30 pm at the Vancouver Playhouse, Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen will perform Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit, the sublime piece of music responsible for his re-appearance on the Vancouver Recital Series stage just two years after his debut here during the 2007-2008 season.

During his visit for that first recital, VRS Artistic Director Leila Getz heard Mr. Pohjonen practicing Gaspard backstage for an upcoming concert in a different city. It was so brilliant she immediately re-engaged him to perform the work here in Vancouver – before he’d even played his first concert.

When I worked at Columbia Artists in New York, I was thrilled to be part of the team managing Andras Schiff’s concert career. His Bach even inspired me to write a poem I’ll append to the bottom of this post. I was and remain a huge fan of Andras as one of the great pianists of our day. On learning that he chose Juho Pohjonen for the 2009 Klavier Festival Ruhr Scholarship, I knew this must be a rare young artist and how fortunate we are to have someone of his artistry here in Vancouver.

According to The New York Times:

If we needed proof that exciting new talent is in the pipeline, there was the marvellous American debut of Juho Pohjonen at [Carnegie’s] Weill Recital Hall.  Mr Pohjonen, offered a formidable mixed program, topped by thrilling accounts of two fiendishly difficult works by a fellow Finn, Esa-Pekka Salonen.

On Sunday, you can hear for yourself what all the fuss is about, as Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit is the first piece on Juho’s programme. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

The poem that Andras inspired?

Well-Tempered Bach

A small dry leaf – I listen.
Tempest-tos’t on roiling torrent
Racing down faster, faster
in joyous exultation
Rushing, babbling, broiling brook
of this peculiar ecstasy.

A tiny, crystal tear in brilliant sun
Swept along in slapping, splashing playful mist
I am caught
in rainbow’s prism;
Spray and spume, crashing waves
Break upon the rugged crags
of conscious thought I fall

And now, a gentle easy pond
Calm respite
in clear cool water,
Profoundly deep
Miles yet to go before I sleep.

April 13, 1990
Sean Bickerton