Roger Wright in Concert
- Featured: Roger Wright
- Release Date: 11/9/2004
Those who have heard pianist Roger Wright's live recordings on CD or been fortunate to attend one of his concerts, know why he is called a phenomenal pianist. Certainly, he impresses listeners with his commanding technique, his sensitivity to piano sound, and for his astute musical intelligence. Yet what sets him apart is his extraordinary ability to communicate with audiences in a manner that is as exciting as it is fresh. Wright gained international attention when he won the 24th Frinna Awerbuch International Piano Competition in New York City, which led to his debut at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall. His international reputation was further enhanced when he was eliminated from the 2000 Sydney International Piano Competition of Australia. The decision of the jury precipitated mass protests from listeners who followed the competition via national radio broadcast and worldwide web cast. In response to this unprecedented outpouring of support, the ABC, the competition's principal sponsor, marketed a debut recording of Wright's performances at the competition. His recording of Between Five Bells from that CD earned composer Peter Sculthorpe the Australian Performing Rights Association's (APRA) Award for the Most Performed Contemporary Classical Composition of 2001. Following the competition in Australia, he was a finalist at the 3rd Esther Honens International Piano Competition in Canada, one of the 30 competitors selected for the 2001 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth and winner of the 2003 San Antonio International Piano Competition. REVIEWS: 'You recognize it immediately when you hear it. A long, arching, beautiful line that sings naturally, the way a fine singer sings. A true pianissimo poised just above audibility, natural gradations of sonority between very soft and very loud, and a thundering fortissimo that resounds without clamor or ugly overtones. A way of voicing chords so that inner voices have their own dappled color and richness. . . All of that and more was on display in Roger Wright's recital Sunday at the Phillips Collection. Wright, at 26, has a powerful technique and he enjoys reveling in it. He took the Schumann Toccata - which makes inhuman demands on the wrist - at a burning tempo that was always under control, and along the way he shaped Schumann's contrapuntal lines with remarkable tonal beauty and masterful control of inner voices. The Chopin Sonata in B-flat Minor was a gorgeous display of effortlessly flowing melody, rhapsodic bravura and electrifying passagework. This was aristocratic, exhilarating Chopin that sounded freshly conceived and spontaneous in every bar. Frederic Rzewski's 'Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues' erupted in huge sonic clusters that threatened to tear the recital hall asunder. Wright is virtually unknown, but he is a major pianist who should have a big career.' - Washington Post 'Wright has been impressive for his commanding technique and even more for his sensitivity to piano sound and general musical intelligence...[His] performances of Liebermann...and Rzewski were absolutely riveting. But Wright also possesses the most liquid, romantic piano tone imaginable...' - Calgary Herald 'A savvy, elegant, and charismatic pianist, Wright commands an astonishing but musically informed technical apparatus...he will turn heads before long.' - American Record Guide 'CD of the year, in my view, is a recently released ABC Classics recording of pianist Roger Wright.' - The West Australian 'Roger Wright played...with a technique equal to Marc-Andre Hamelin's, a charismatic presence and a fine musical mind to boot...He stole the show.' - Clavier Magazine 'Wright is indeed a phenomenal pianist, but he is also a profoundly insightful and imaginative artist who is fully aware that along with a virtuoso technique goes an awesome responsibility: making music. Indeed, what concerns him are not just the notes, but what goes on in between them.' - The St. Petersburg Times '...As with any competition, there are stars and one that shone resplendently was the 26-year-old American Pianist Roger Wright. His diet wasn't one of the competition standards, but even when he did choose to play pieces frequently aired in competitions - a Chopin B flat minor Sonata of Rubinstein-like nobility, for instance - they were newly lit, magnificently unfolded. His choice of American contemporary music (by Fabregas) and his Schumann and Haydn hovered around the elegant and rarefied worlds of Kempff, Haskil and Lupu.' International Record Review "Wright. . . delivered two contemporary works requiring jaw-dropping displays of virtuosity before joining the [Camerata San Antonio] Quartet for the Dvorak. The second of these was a vigorous, fleet-fingered account of William Mason's jazz-flavored 'Toccata'. . . The first was an astonishingly evocative score by Frederic Rzewski, 'Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues,' which begins with rumbling low-bass tone clusters and repeated chromatic tics that actually sound like noisy machinery. Later, a bluesy honky-tonk theme emerges, punctuated here and there with other aural imagery of a working mill. Wright's traversal was facile, confident and utterly absorbing. . . Wright has a commanding technique whose dynamics range from whispery soft to absolutely teeth-rattling. Thus, it was particularly enlightening to hear him as part of an ensemble. For the Dvorak, he proved an intuitive collaborator, moving in and out of the textures, flirting with the strings or taking the lead with confidence. The result was an impassioned, wholly committed traversal by all the musicians, concluding a concert that will be memorable on several levels" - San Antonio Express-News A native Texan, Roger Wright was born in 1974. He has been performing to the acclaim of audiences worldwide since his debut with the Houston Symphony at the age of eighteen. Recent performances include recitals in Charleston (SC), Chicago, Cincinnati, Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Antonio, San Diego and San Jose (CA). His performances have been broadcast on ABC Australia, CBC Radio Canada, 105.1 K-Mozart in Los Angeles, WFMT-FM Chicago, WQXR in New York City, and on David Dubal's celebrated series Reflections from the Keyboard. Wright savors the opportunity to play with chamber groups and ensembles and collaborates frequently with Camerata San Antonio, a group comprised of outstanding string players from the San Antonio Symphony. When time has permitted, he tours in the United States and Germany with Hudson Shad, the celebrated Comedian Harmonists. Mr. Wright is a serious Scrabble player and in August he won the 2004 National Scrabble Championship, a five-day tournament held in New Orleans. Following the Championship, he was featured on CNN and interviewed on The Today Show and The Jimmy Kimmel Show. The two-man championship match was taped and is being televised by ESPN. Mr. Wright currently resides in Los Angeles where he enjoys performing, teaching, collaborating and composing his own music.
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