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Canberra Today 22°/27° | Tuesday, February 27, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Korkmaz Can Sağlam stuns audience at Wesley Church

Korkmaz Can Saglam.
Photo by Peter Hislop.

Music / Korkmaz Can Sağlam. At Wesley Church, January 30. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.

Appearing on concert stages across the world, pianist Korkmaz Can Sağlam has wowed audiences in many countries and in his native country, Turkiye. Now it was Canberra’s turn.

After winning the Sydney International Piano Competition Rex Hobcroft People’s Choice Award in 2023, Korkmaz Can showed why he is in demand.

The organisers moved the concert from the Wesley Music Centre to Wesley Church because the large audience would not have fit into the centre.

He began with the Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Liszt arranged Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542. The thunderous bass notes filled the church with a generous warmth on top of the physical warmth of a summer’s evening, which made for one hot opening.

Without sheet music for the whole concert, Korkmaz Can performed with finesse and fire before the large audience. And, he was wiping sweat from his brow after the first piece. Moving into Shostakovich’s Prelude and Fugue Op.87, No.7 in A Major and No.6 in B minor. With as many notes as the Bach, Korkmaz Can superbly phrased these flowing and intricate works.

More Bach, this time the Partita in B♭ Major, BWV 825 in seven movements. The elaborate and circular beauty of Bach’s counterpoint fell effortlessly under the fingers of this expressive pianist. Each work clear and distinct. With the rise and fall of his arms, you could see and hear the hours of practice and passion he puts into his playing. It was quite exceptional.

After the interval, the music of Franz Liszt. From the sad and melancholy to the songs of Schubert transcribed, he performed Müllerlieder von Franz Schubert, S.565, No.2 Der Müller und der Bach, from Lieder aud Franz Schubert’s Schwanengesang S.560, No.3 Aufenthalt, from Lieder von Franz Schubert S.558, No.8 Gretchen am Spinnrade, and No.2 Auf dem Wasser zu singen.

His seamless playing sang with a refined sensibility. Capable of grand fortissimos without the show, he makes an audience feel the music through his playing, not his flair.

To finish the concert, 12 of the 24 Preludes Op.28, by Frédéric Chopin. From 13 to 24, the relaxed performance of these works midst the heat was quite the treat. Whether the music subtle or suspenseful, his balanced performance maintained. His memory of these profound works was set with the accuracy of a clock, while leaving only the slightest gap between the preludes. None of them felt rushed, and they all owned individual expressive qualities that made each piece unique.

What an excellent first concert to get the Canberra musical season underway.

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Helen Musa

Helen Musa

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