SYDNEY FESTIVAL REVIEW: Double Dream

Listening to these two, one a jazz pianist and composer, the other a classical pianist, is like listening in to an immensely enjoyable conversation.
SYDNEY FESTIVAL REVIEW: Double Dream
When a man with a dream and a man who knows about salad come together, great things happen. Mikhail Rudy dreamed of mixing melodies and styles, Tristano and Schumann in particular, and Misha Alperin is the man who compares his composition process to the making of a salad - it's all about the right mixture, a sense of what will work and what won't, but also the experiment, the unexpected - and no guarantee of success. Listening to these two, one a jazz pianist and composer, the other a classical pianist, is like listening in to an immensely enjoyable conversation. One will start by saying, I think this is..., and the other will ask, Oh, do you? But what about this... - I see, but if I do this... - I think my answer would be something like that... - and so on. Sometimes it's almost like they're teasing each other, trading witty remarks, each in his own distinctive language, exchanging expectant looks as if to say, Let's see what you can come up with now! They're clearly having a lot of fun, and you can't help but feel that it's a privilege that you get to watch and listen when they talk. This is helped enormously by the fact that video cameras have been set up to look over the artists' shoulders, projecting their faces and hands onto big screens at the back of the stage. Where Mikhail Rudy is the quietly intense, restrained one whose hands curl up into loose fists whenever he's not playing, watching Alperin with a hint of a smile on his face, Misha Alperin, the boy who couldn't understand why his teacher wouldn't let him make changes to famous compositions, is exuberant, boisterous, wild. He just can't stop himself, his facial expressions as vivid as his playing, humming and singing along with the tunes, tapping his feet, conducting the music with his free hand, bouncing up and down, expressing himself through his whole body, not just his hands. They're very different, but perfect complements - both tremendously accomplished, brilliant pianists, starting from very different directions, but coming together in a way you can't help but feel was meant to be. Like in a perfect marriage, it seems they've both found something in the other that they needed, that they had been searching for, and together they make up a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. So how do you mix Bach with Alperin, Tristano with Schumann and move from Saeverud to Debussy so smoothly that the audience might not even notice, unless they're really paying attention? Apparently, if you know how to get the right mixture, if you're prepared to try and see what happens, it's as easy as salad. Double Dream was part of the Sydney Festival.

Elisabeth Meister

Thursday 29 January, 2009

About the author

Elisabeth Meister is a Sydney-based translator and writer.