Rochdale News | News headlines | Rochdale Music Society Concert: Luka Okros

Date published: 03 December 2021

Members of the Rochdale Music Society were eagerly awaiting the return of Georgian pianist Luka Okros, who had dazzled them with his spectacular technique and musicality two years ago. They were not to be disappointed as they waited for another intensely satisfying evening of performance on November 27, delighting their experience of classical music making live.

Despite the freezing cold outside, St. Chad’s provided a place of heartwarming tales by a masterful performer of the music of late Baroque composer, Domenico Scarlatti, and early Romanticism, Frédéric Chopin, while providing scintillating perspectives. in the poetic soul of the performer himself in the form of three Impromptus of his own.

Scarlatti’s Sonatas, performed before the concert’s intermission, consisted of a selection of four of the many keyboard pieces written over the years by a man whose music belongs to a period of European musical development when composers sought to simplify things and to bring a lighter and more immediately appealing touch to musical expression.

This “gallant” style did just that, but without reducing the value of musical currency; like those examples of his artistry revealed in Luka’s finely tuned performances.

Most of the concert consisted of music by Chopin, considered perhaps the best of the piano composers of the “romantic” period of the 19th century, romantic meaning “adventurous” rather than “starry eyes” or “sentimental”.

From the early 1820s to the early 1900s, European composers paved the way for a new movement towards even more immediate expression and appeal than that of Mozart and Beethoven of the previous generation.

The four Nocturnes, with which the concert began, offered a range of melodic inspiration projected onto backgrounds of finely woven harmonic textures. Like songs without words, they spoke to the audience about some of those important and fulfilling moments in life that we otherwise find impossible to communicate.

The two Ballads, with which the concert ended, are the first and last in a series of four works of this title written by Chopin during the period 1835-42. You could say that they express his deepest thoughts on living in a world that requires immense courage and determination if we are to rise to its challenges and find the satisfaction of welcoming the opportunities.

Deceptively plaintive, simple and even tender melodies are found at the beginning of both. Then, as their narratives progress, these gradually turn into culminating claims of the tormented – dysfunctional? – the human spirit from which we cannot expect any release in the here and now.

The end of # 1 suggests that there will be no solution at all to the problem of the human situation. # 4 suggests the same thing, but with a magnificent gesture of defiance of cruel fate as it plunges deeper into the depths of anguish.

All of this was beautifully communicated by Luka, whose exceptional technical mastery allowed the musical message to register with the passion and clarity it deserves.

Prior to the Ballads, Luka gave audiences a vivid glimpse into his personal musical soul by performing three “Impromptus”, which he said were going to be improvisations on ideas he had in mind.

Organists still do this sort of thing, but it is no longer customary for other than jazz pianists to do it.

It would seem that Luka’s imagination flourishes in a world of what I would call mid-20th century mid-European romanticism refined by Ravel’s sensibility. In search of melody and form in a luxuriant undergrowth of chromaticism, these improvisations have produced moments of magic that can still be savored as I write.

Luka should continue to include impromptu in his concerts, and perhaps turn them into published compositions to be savored over and over again.

The next Rochdale Musical Society concert will be on March 5, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. at the Heywood Civic Center.

Pianist Ugnius Pauliukonis will perform a musical program including Preludes by Rachmaninoff and the Suite bergamasque by Debussy. For more information, please visit the website:

Graham Marshall

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