New York Concert Review of recital at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall

Rorianne Schrade, writing for New York Concert Review, heaped praise on Watkins for his early twentieth century recital which featured the New York premiere of American composer Howard Hanson's Piano Sonata, Op. 11, nearly one hundred years after it was composed. "American pianist Scott Watkins performed music of Bartók, Hanson, and Debussy last weekend, in a program that was well suited to his particular pianistic and musical gifts. A keen intellect was immediately apparent in his opener, the Piano Sonata Sz. 80 (1926) by Béla Bartók (1881-1945), which drew upon his laser-like focus, faultless memory, and considerable analytic grasp. It was bold and bracing in its relentless rhythms without ever devolving into the earsplitting harshness that one so often hears in this piece. Though many advocate unleashing the beast in this work (a product of the “barbaric” period of the composer’s life), pacing and control are still important – and one can appreciate so much more of the composition if one is not covering one’s ears! Thankfully, Mr. Watkins showed judicious control and steadiness, but with plenty of stamina." "The rest of the first half consisted of a remarkable discovery (or rediscovery), the Piano Sonata in A Minor, Op. 11 (1918), by the prominent American composer Howard Hanson (1896-1981) in its first New York City performance. Mr. Watkins [played] with excellent attention to detail and respect for the score ... [and] with the fidelity of a music historian." "Debussy’s Préludes Book II were a good match for Mr. Watkins’ gifts. Despite the tendency of many pianists to use the excuse of “impressionism” to run wild and drown some of these twelve pieces in pedal, we know that Debussy was against such abuse, and Mr. Watkins gets it right. He plays with the requisite clarity, but with great sweeps and washes of sound when required. These were excellent performances." "There was delicacy in Bruyères and a haunting quality in Feuilles mortes. Mr. Watkins' “straight man” approach enhanced the fun of “Général Lavine” – eccentric and Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq., P. P. M. P. C. Les tierces alternées (No. 11) was also a highlight. Mr. Watkins was extremely impressive in his handling of its exposed technical challenges. While it is not this listener’s favorite Prélude, it took a prize for sheer digital prowess. Feux d’artifice (No. 12) was a brilliant close, played with vivid imagination and fire. All in all, it was a highly praiseworthy concert – a fulfilling musical evening." - by Rorianne Schrade for New York Concert Review; New York, NY You can read the entire review here: http://nyconcertreview.com/reviews/scott-watkins-pianist-in-review/

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