Nélida Nassar 03.17.2016
A gifted pianist, Patrick Fayad performs in Budapest a romantic program during the week of the Francophonie at the Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum and Research Centre. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, a graduate of the Holy Spirit, Kaslik, he moved to France and joined the International Paris Conservatory. Studying with renowned pianists Germaine Mounier, France Clidat and lately with Danielle Laval, he is the recipient of many awards the first prize for interpretation and for excellence as well as the unanimous first jury prize.
Fayad’s technique and style have evolved several times since age 14 – the moment he discovered his passion for the piano – through constant personal and musical research. He believes that the way we hear has as much to do with the relation and energy between the left and right hand as much as with the muscles, the mind and the ears. To the two hands he adds a third one or the art of pedaling that better connects him to the composer’s music truth. However, Fayad’s approach has not changed regarding the thorough study of the partitions for which he has tremendous respect, what changed is the way he reads and interprets them. Reinventing the phrasing with his right hand, he creates ornaments, while his sense of expressive and rhythmic freedom remains pretty personal.
Since childhood, Fayad has listened to different tunes, in particular very popular rubato: musicians playing simultaneously either a diminuendo and ritardando, or an accelerando and crescendo. The sound in these pairings is often dissonant, he believes it exists more inventive ways, to show musical close-up details, not unlike in a mathematical equation. That is why his playing as the native of a multicultural city Beirut, has benefited from listening to popular, folk, and eastern music, because there is in the phrasing a different breath and a variety of endless colors.
While playing his instrument, both his hands embellish very freely the music. Traditional and folk musicians have an exceptional mastery of time. Because their musical material is poor and repetitive, they must compete for invention and rhythmic freedom to keep the listener’s attention. Beethoven and Schubert were inspired by folk dances. As a reaction to the excesses of the Belle Epoque, pianists started to play more and more rigidly pursues Fayad.
The recital’s construction intersects “Bach – Busoni: Intermezzo Toccata in C major,” a Vladimir Horowitz signature piece, as it shows the influence of concerto style and form. The work begins with an extended form of old-prelude-type, a short silence then a manual passagio followed by a pedal solo one of the longest known musical introduction, then a motivic-contrapuntal section. Franz Schubert’s “Sonata in A minor D 784” one of the major composition for the piano in three movements follows. Fayad’s suffuses it with darkness and austerity as called for by Schubert’s profound and almost tragic piece. With Frédéric Chopin: “Scherzo, No. 2, Op 31,” the melody informs and refreshes with its rich sound and lighter mood. A virtuosic succession from an arpeggiated pianissimo, a moment’s pause, moving to fortissimo, before returning to the quiet arpeggiated chords. Here, Fayad promises appropriate spontaneity, flamboyance alongside emotional honesty.
Aptly, three Franz Liszt compositions conclude the concert: “Recueillement, S. 204;” “After a Reading of Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata” – from the second travel year of pilgrimage in Italy – and “La lugubre gondola 1.” The beat changes again and Liszt creates dramatic effects. Sometimes the sound is expanded, allowing it to breathe, especially if some notes are critical to the linear, architectural or harmonic development of the pieces. When Fayad plays sotto voce, it’s for attention. Liszt and Chopin were revolutionary, why not emphasize the conceptual leap they created and performed he asks? Theirs was the romanticism and heroism era, the human potential’s glorification in relation to their epoch. The evolution of the piano frame and shape is owed to both of them. The first pianists that have recorded Lizst’s works are Joseph Hoffmann and Sergei Rachmaninov where they created unique mood and sound. Their sense of phrasing may seem to us overly sentimental, still they knew how to inspire and communicate as well as touch the listener by bending the musical phrasing, coloring it with varying accents.
What is striking about the concert’s selection is that in all the pieces except for the Scherzo have moment of silence the so-called “counting silence” that color the music. Fayad choice of tempos, sometimes very slow reflects the proper understanding of the composers’ instructions. Allegro moderato does not mean you should just play a little slower than presto, but suggests a moderate joy, an indication of change of character, not speed. Interpreting the music in the style of the time it was composed is a challenge the pianist embraces as well.
In recent years, Fayad’s closeness to his instrument of predilection, the Steinway allowed him to ask for more from the piano – of course through his constant work. He feels renewed pleasure to practice, play and perform bringing his consummate pianism to shine forth. His concert’s selection of romantic and melancholic pieces is an apropos reflexion on the malaise our planet is experiencing. Although the world seems violent, brutal, cacophonous, Fayad is reassured when he sees that there is still an audience who listen to and is passionate about music. In the process, he captures the mood of each partition, and in the more inward ones finds poetry and nobility.
Liszt Ferenc Emlékmúzeum
Budapest, Vörösmarty u. 35, 1064 Hungary
March 19, 2016 at 11 a.m.
Bach–Busoni: Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564
Franz Schubert: Piano Sonata No.14, D.784
Allegro giusto, Andante, Allegro vivace
Frédéric Chopin: Scherzo no2 B-flat minor, op. 31
Franz Liszt: Recueillement, S. 204
Franz Liszt: After a Reading of Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata
Franz Liszt: La lugubre gondola 1