• Ilona Oltuski

Pianist Spencer Myer deserves your applause

This is the translation of a German article of mine, originally published by Naxos, Germany. Even though the concert description relates to a dated event, I thought the article about pianist Spencer Myer, deserves an English audience.



Inbetween the article of 2009 and today, Spencer Myer was actively performing.Following a summer that included a return to the Bard Music Festival and debuts at the Colorado Music Festival and the Gina Bachauer International Piano Festival, Spencer Myer’s upcoming season is highlighted by performances with the Cleveland and Louisiana Philharmonic orchestras and the Baton Rouge, Glacier (MT), Richmond (IN) and San Juan symphony orchestras, as well as solo and collaborative recitals throughout the United States. …. and here the article about his 2009 performance at New York’s Merkin Hall:


The young pianist Spencer Myer has not gained world fame yet, but he definitely belongs to the select group of his generation, who is on its way to do so. Astral, an organization founded in Philadelphia in order to support young musicians, featured his concert at Merkin Concert Hall in New York’s Upper Westside on Oct. 21. He confidently played a program that impressed by its unpretentious perfection. When using the term ‘balance’ one would run the risk of being misunderstood. When used here ‘balance’ is not understood as a friendly way to describe boredom, but on the contrary – as an ideal quality. Everything has to be seen in relation to each other when playing a piano: for example, what is loud and what is soft. Only the relatively slower pace of the whole piece determines the pace of a piano run. What matters is the relative progression within single nuances; it is only through these that the perfect sound is being produced. Technically perfect control of these nuances is the prerequisite for differentiated musical expressiveness. But when does the musician’s temperament takes over the composers basic message, and, in spite of all complicated technical control challenges, to what degree is the musician able to concentrate solely on the music rather than on his efforts?

Shouldn’t a musical performance keep certain effortlessness and inspire the audience? These are only a few of many possible questions and contradictions that Spencer Myer solved in his concert in an extremely harmonious way. The program itself offered an eclectic selection of different styles and thus not only provided for diversity, but it also proved that Spencer Myers has the mastery of the most varied characteristics of individual musical styles. For example, in Georg Friedrich Handel’s Suite No.2 in F-mayor (HWV 427), Myer expressed very effectively the constant interplay between the leading melody and the harmonious substance to give a full theatrical expression. Leos Janacek’s 1905 sonata 1.X, a rather difficult work, was a further program highlight presented by him with haunting presence.

For me the absolute highlight of the concert was Myer’s interpretation of four Schubert – Imprompti (Op.90). So far Eva Maria Pires’ rendition of the work has been the yardstick for me. Now I have to give Myers version equal status. Masterfully calculated in keeping steady the tempi and wonderfully differentiated in term of the tonal palette he wholeheartedly gave justice to these melodic gems. His stylistic adaptability is also showcased in his very different treatment of former Jazz rhythms – just as in Aaron Copland’s piano variations. El amor y la muerte (love and death) and Los requiebros (flattery), both from the Goyescas-cycle gave Spencer Myer enough opportunity to have free reign to his charm. Still the intimate and somewhat ‘wicked’ dance rhythms never lost their character. An enthusiastic audience and standing ovations for Myer who thanked them by playing two encores: One piece, that is a must on any of his concerts – Debussy’s Possoin d’Or – and, as a very special treat, Gershwin’s’ Embraceable You, arranged by Earl Wilde, concluded the evening in the almost completely sold out venue. Even before this wonderful evening I already had the opportunity to engage in a person-to-person conversation. In regards to his somewhat disappointing Van Cliburn ranking – still one of the most important international competitions – he had to say the following:

#SpencerMyer #RobertShannon #Astral #PeterTakacs #OberlinCollege #JulianMartin

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