On September 14, 2016 Georgia-born pianist Ketevan Kartvelishvili performed at the weekly Dame Myra Hess concerts in Chicago’s Cultural Center, also simulcast on WFMT.
It’s likely that many in the audience that day –either on the radio or in the hall-- had heard full orchestras perform Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”. Both the CSO and Grant Park Orchestra had recently performed Ravel’s re-work of this classic piano piece for a full orchestra in just the last few years.
Listening to Ketevan play-- or “Keti”, as she is known to her friends—you too might have had thoughts similar to this reviewer, viz. “this is like thunder”.
It was not simply volume that made it thunderous. Yes, it was loud at the times when the score required loudness. It was more that one envisioned the passions of Zeus summoning the heavens to a downpour.
Child Prodigy Ketevan Performing
Perhaps we would have anticipated this passion If we had, previous to the concert, seen 12 year-old Ketevan Kartvelishvili perform Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Just take a look at this Youtube video capture!
Ketevan Comments on Scriabin Selections
The Zeus-like passions and power that Keti brought to Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” was especially highlighted by the two softer yet similarly emotional pieces Keti opened her performance with—Scriabin’s “Poème No. 1” and his “Étude No. 12”.
Speaking before the concert about the program she selected for the Dame Myra Hess audience, Ketevan said, “Both Scriabin’s ‘Poème No. 1’ and ‘Étude’ are very beautiful. The ‘Poème’ for both me and the audience because I can relax a bit…
“The ‘Étude’ is one of my favorite pieces. It is small but emotional, and very challenging…It has lots of passion. I feel it to be about the person who had a most difficult life in the past. That’s the feeling I have when perform it. It’s about sadness—about love that never happens in a good way, or the person who is upset about never getting what they really want..
Ketevan Comments on "Pictures at an Exhibition"
“Pictures at an Exhibition is one of the hardest pieces to play—very challenging. It is very long and also very well-known. I just wanted to do it. I decided that this summer, but the Dame Myra Hess concert will be the first time I have performed it…
“In ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ I suppose my two favorite parts are No. 2 (‘The Old Castle’) and No. 9 (‘The Hut on Fowl’s Legs’). They are different from each other. No. 2 is slow and a very Russian style song. No. 9 also has a very strong character and technically is very challenging..
“In general, I like exploring difficult pieces, figuring out different ways i an play thematic. I find pride in that I can play difficult and challenging pieces."
Ketevan Growing Connection to Chicago
Keti’s 2016 Dame Myra Hess performance was actually her second one. It was easy for her to decide to return. She explains, “It was a great experience. I felt something special from the audience. I felt very comfortable on the stage..”
Keti, in fact, is so taken by Chicago that she hopes to move here soon.
Want to hear Keti perform?
Photos: Slider photos of Dame Myra Hess concert on September 14, 2016 - Amy Munice
All other photos courtesy of Ketevan Kartvelishvili