New York Times - July 15, 2004 - Written by Anthony Tommasini

A Pianist Playing for His Peers

It seems that the respected pianist Jerome Rose, a senior faculty member at the Mannes College of Music, just can't get enough of his instrument. During July, a slow time both in the New York concert season and at the college, he runs the International Keyboard Institute and Festival, which he founded in 1999.

The event brings together student pianists, noted artists, important pedagogues and historians for two full weeks of recitals, master classes and lectures, all open to the public. The sixth annual festival, which has attracted some 100 participants, kicked off Sunday night with a recital by Mr. Rose. The auditorium at the Mannes College, on West 85th Street in Manhattan, was packed.

Mr. Rose traditionally claims pride of place by opening the festival. Still, it must have been challenging to play for an audience in which there were pianists, both fledgling and the famous, everywhere.

Though Mr. Rose built his reputation with virtuosic Romantic-era repertory, he began his program with one of the most elegantly subdued works of the late Viennese classical period: Schubert's Sonata in G (D. 894), written in 1826.

For me it was not the best match of repertory with artistic temperament and pianistic approach. In the haunting opening movement, which begins with a ruminative theme in boldly sustained chords, sometimes hardly a ripple of activity, Mr. Rose seemed always to be holding back, and that cautious quality permeated the other three movements, even the Menuetto, the work's most hardy music. Also, he stretched and shaped Schubert's melodic phrases with an extremely free sense of rhythmic rubato, which, again to my taste, turned fussy.

After this 40-minute sonata, Mr. Rose ended his recital with another of the same length: Brahms's early, stormy Sonata No. 3 in F minor. The young Brahms had orchestral floods of sound in mind when he composed this work, and even on a modern Steinway the writing pushes the piano to its limits of power and sonority. Seeming much more at home, Mr. Rose tore into the work, fearlessly playing the opening flourish, with its leaps from thunderous low octaves up to brawny outbursts of chords.

The festival continues with daytime workshops and master classes and nightly recitals by artists ranging from the brilliant and adventurous Marc-Andre Hamelin (tomorrow night) to the ageless virtuoso and showman Earl Wild (Saturday night), through July 25.

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