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Photo Credit: Balázs Böröcz

“[Mr. Rabinovich’s] mature and self-assured playing belies his chronological age.”—San Francisco Classical Voice

One of the foremost pianists of our time, Sir András Schiff has chosen three young, accomplished pianists to present a new generation of great musicians in a new series in New York and Berlin. Be among the first to experience the next wave of brilliant players and their unique interpretations.

Israeli pianist Roman Rabinovich was winner of the 2008 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition. Early last year he released to critical acclaim his first CD, Ballets Russes—piano transcriptions of ballet scores. In New York he has appeared at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Merkin Hall. Mr. Rabinovich is also a gifted visual artist.

Read Roman Rabinovich’s note on the program, and see his drawings of the program’s composers.
Watch Roman Rabinovich perform Brahms’ Variations on a theme of Handel.

Roman Rabinovich, piano

BACH: English Suite in F major, BWV 809
BARTÓK: Three Burlesques, BB 55
BRAHMS: Variations and Fugue on a theme by Handel, Op. 24
SMETANA: Four Czech Dances

This concert is approximately 70 minutes long, with no intermission.


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  92Y Concerts at SubCulture is a co-presentation of 92Y and SubCulture.

This concert takes place in SubCulture, 45 Bleecker St.

Roman Rabinovich plays J. Brahms Variations and Fugue on a Theme, by Handel Op. 24

Sir András Schiff Selects: Young Pianists

One of the foremost pianists of our time, Sir András Schiff has created a series that presents three young accomplished pianists to audiences in New York and Berlin, representing a new generation of great musicians. The series began last month with Kuok-Wai Lio, and concludes Monday, March 16, with Adam Golka performing works of Brahms and Beethoven.

Explore the Music

Artist’s Note

By Roman Rabinovich

Creating a recital program is one of the great challenges and thrills of every pianist, simply because the scope and possibilities are enormous. Tonight’s program explores elements of dance and folk as displayed in the works by Bach, Bartók, Brahms and Smetana.

I will open with J. S. Bach's English Suite No. 4 in F major, BWV 809. It is a sunny and delightful piece, full of light and positive energy. The English Suites are the earliest set of suites that Bach wrote, dating 1715. Coming out of the French keyboard style of Couperin and the German organ masters, Bach created an ingenious synthesis of all the styles and techniques known to him. Ironically, these suites don’t exhibit any particular English characteristics. Starting with the fugal Prelude, the rest of the movements are dances. The emotional culmination of the suite is the sublime Sarabande.

Bartók wrote three humorous character pieces that he called “burlesques” in his late twenties, as he was searching for his own voice and just starting to research the folk music of his native Hungary and its surroundings. A great pianist, Bartók wrote many of his early works for performance on his concert tours. This was his most fruitful period for solo piano works (around 100 pieces in 1908–1911). The first piece, Quarrel, is supposedly a dispute with his first wife, Marta and is full of grimaces and taunts. Bartok was attached to these early pieces later in his life and recorded some of them in the 1929 recording. He even orchestrated Slightly Tipsy and included it in the suite, Hungarian Sketches.

After Schumann’s death, the devastated young Brahms stopped composing for a few years and devoted himself to studying the old forms and the techniques of the Baroque masters. The Handel Variations is a culmination of this highly focused period of scholarly research, hence the reference to older forms (siciliana, fugue, canonic writing). The 28-year-old Brahms was heavily influenced by Bach’s Goldberg and Beethoven’s Diabelli variations, yet he managed to integrate his individual voice brilliantly in this virtuosic masterpiece. The simplicity of Handel’s Air allows Brahms to have much freedom in developing the material. It’s worth noting that some variations come in pairs or groups of three, as “variations of variations.” The “Hungarian” variation (No. 13) in the minor key is of particular emotional substance. Brahms follows Beethoven’s example and concludes this work with a magnificent fugue, full of exhilaration, ingenuity and, in the end, great triumph.

Smetana's Czech Dances are contrasting character pieces, based on authentic folk tunes and dances, and are full of catchy melodies and exciting rhythms. The Bear is a robust Barovak, a Bohemian dance alternating between two measures of triple meter followed by three measures in duple. The middle section imitates bagpipes with the drone in the left hand, providing a pastoral contrast. The Lancer is a lyrical dance about a woman's lament for her soldier lover who is far away. The Little Hen is a lively and humorous women's dance resembling the polka, alternating between 2/4 and 3/8, and Skočná is an exuberant leaping group dance.

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Portraits of the Concert’s Composers by Roman Rabinovich

(Click below to view a larger image.)

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johannes Brahms

Béla Bartók

Bedřich Smetana


Artist Bio

Roman Rabinovich

Israeli pianist Roman Rabinovich is the winner of the 2008 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition. He has performed throughout the US, Europe and Israel in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Paris’s Salle Cortot, Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, Vienna's Musikverein and the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. In 2009 he played a recital for the Mezzo channel in France, which was televised to 39 countries.

In addition to winning the top prize and four additional awards at the Rubinstein Competition, Mr. Rabinovich won first prize at the Animato Piano Competitions in Paris and both the Rafi Gouralnik Prize and Meira Gera Audience Prize at the Aviv Competition in Israel. At age 10 he made his Israel Philharmonic debut with Zubin Mehta. Since then his concerto appearances have included most Israeli orchestras; the Paris Chamber Orchestra; the Dohnányi Orchestra of Budapest; the Ann Arbor, Delaware, Lubbock and Prague symphonies, and the Buffalo Philharmonic.

This coming weekend Mr. Rabinovich will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Ashland Symphony, and the following weekend he will join violinist Liza Ferschtman for the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas cycle in Tel Aviv. Other highlights of his 2014/15 season include appearances with the Jupiter Chamber Players; solo recitals in Fribourg, Zurich and Netanya, Israel; and performances of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Polish Radio Orchestra and KSB Orchestra of Seoul.

Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Mr. Rabinovich began his piano studies at the age of six with his mother, and a few years later his family immigrated to Israel. He holds a bachelor’s degree from The Curtis Institute of Music and a master’s degree from the Juilliard School. He also excels as a gifted artist; he often combines his concerts with exhibitions of his paintings. His artwork can be viewed on his website,

Photo: Balázs Böröcz

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