Jaw-dropping Rachmaninov by Paremski, Charlotte Symphony
By Lawrence Toppman
May 8, 2015
I doubt Natasha Paremski can play the piano with her elbows. (I saw Jerry Lee Lewis do that once. It was cool.) But on the evidence of her performance Friday night in Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto, there’s not much else she can’t do at a keyboard.
She had a wide array of weapons in her arsenal: a muscular assurance in loud passages, delicacy in quiet ones, trills and runs where she delineated each note, cataclysmic cadenzas, skittering playfulness where Rachmaninov smiled and fireworks where he frowned. Prodigious technique freed her to make interesting interpretive choices, and nothing fazed her.
You could see why the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra stood to acknowledge her before she had played a note and – even more of a tribute – stared at her in fascination when they weren’t playing. (That’s rarer than you might think.) She soared into the final movement with Horowitz-style speed and attack, then ratcheted up the intensity another notch for her encore, a percussive dash through the last movement of Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata. Then, rather than find an ice bucket for her fingers, she signed CDs at intermission.
The CSO, inspired by her adrenaline, produced an unusually lush string sound to support her. Her fleet tempos suited the musicians, who raced along comfortably with her to the last crashing chord.