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QSO with Astanova and Schwarz

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by John Andrew (subscribe)
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Star quality meets Gerswin

"How delightful it is" said the elderly woman on my left "to see a performer with elegance and star quality".

And certainly Lola Astanova does not shy away from show-person-ship. At the ripe old age of 27 she has featured at the Carnegie Hall, and promoted her career primarily on YouTube, with spell-bindingly virtuosic performances, not only of her native Russian composers, but also of pop songs like "Don't Stop the Music" and Lennon and McCartney hits.

She does look better than John Rutter, it has to be said, and what her costume may have lacked in material it more than made up for in flair. She is the only pianist I can remember who played in what appeared to be six inch heels.

Shooting her long arms into the air, crossing her hands over the keyboard, bringing down her hands like fists, arching her body towards and away from the piano, she became an embodiment of the passion of the music. Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" was well suited to such an approach.

The Chopin Etude, Opus 25 seemed initially somewhat startled to be played as if it were by Rachmaninov but we were won over by the sheer verve and energy of the interpretation.

And did I mention the Queensland Symphony Orchestra? Probably not while Astanova was on stage the orchestra was her hand-maiden, albeit a wonderfully sensitive one.

They set the scene spectacularly well, with a spirited romp through "An American in Paris", and allowed us to settle down to Ravel for the latter part of the performance.

But undoubtedly the evening belonged to Astanova. I look forward to hearing it all again, on 4MBS which recorded it.
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Why? Brilliant, engaging, confronting playing
When: 12.10.13
Where: QPAC Concert Hall
Cost: $30 - $100
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