Houston Symphony at Miller: Young stars, no audience vote needed Barnatan, Gaffigan collaborate in explosive debut

Inon Barnatan
Houston Chronicle

Inon Barnatan's made his Houston Symphony debut this summer under James Gaffigan. "Many pianists play Mozart with a reminder to the audience that they are tapering their power and technical wizardry to the smaller demands of the Classical-era composer. Barnatan left no such impression. His light touch, elegant phrasing and occasional outburst of emotional accent seemed the only way he could play the Concerto No. 22 (though I'm sure that in other concertos he offers a showier bravado that would seem just as convincing). Moreover, in the cadenzas Barnatan added intriguing freshness to his performance. The Concerto No. 22 is the only one for which Mozart left no written-out cadenzas (those solo show-off moments near the end of a movement). In Mozart's time, they often were improvised. So, Barnatan adapted the ones of the legendary pianist Alfred Brendel, adding some of his own ideas and, in the third movement, throwing in a phrase or two borrowed from the cadenza of Mozart's pupil Johann Nepomuk Hummel."