Now living in New York and working as staff pianist for the Juilliard School and New York Philharmonic, Amir Farid is a well known local chamber musician for Benaud Trio, and a highly accomplished graduate from the University of Melbourne and the Australian National Academy of Music. In 2006 he won the first prize of the Australian National Piano Award, and graduated with a distinction in postgraduate studies at London’s Royal College of Music in 2009. It was a delight to have the Peninsula Music Society in Mornington bring this fine artist to the region for a solo recital.
Schubert’s Moments Musicaux, No 2 in A-flat was a strikingly beautiful opening piece. Short soft chordal melodies were questioning and heartfelt, spaced by powerfully evocative silences in a poignant and captivating beginning. Elegance and a most expressive shaping of the principal repeated motif showed the full strength of Farid as a painter of warm colours and timbres, soulful communication, and sensitive interpretation. So controlled and effective were the many shades of pianissimo and contrasting phrasing, that one could feel mesmerised audience members holding their breath, touched by calmness and wonderment. Time did seem to stand still.
It is very special to hear an Australian composition performed by the artist who has inspired its inception. Amir Farid and Emily Sun had featured Gordon Kerry’s Violin Sonata when on tour together, and the composer was so impressed with Farid’s colourful sonorities, that he composed and dedicated a new Piano Sonata (No. 2) for him. Farid spoke of how his appreciation and interpretation of the piece deepened when he visited Kerry’s north-eastern Victorian home and felt the landscape and atmosphere reflected in the music. A through-composed single movement work, flowing and imperceptibly “connecting” five sections, Farid significantly and distinctly coloured the themes beautifully in varying registers, portrayed the essence of shimmering elements, and effectively promoted repeated themes and echoing melodic entries with re-invented colours and variegated tone. Again, it was the many shades of dynamics, subtle changes and differences in tonal temperature that gave the piece excitement in shimmering tremolos, shape and clarity in design. A highly satisfied audience seemed to want more of Gordon Kerry’s works.
Farid is a most impressive painter of orchestral colours, so Robert Schumann’s Carnaval Op. 9 was a substantial main work where he could brilliantly combine technical virtuosity and accomplishment with personal and poetic interpretation. Strong orchestral chords and crescendos in the opening Préambule showed brilliance and flair, but maintained beauty and expression. Pierrot was characterised with clearly defined contrasting conversational lines between upper melodies and bass line responses. In Valse Noble we felt the light steps of a balletic waltz and arabesque like rising leaps and scale runs, Chopin- like with many transparent sonorities and veiled pastels. Farid continued the interpersonal connection with the audience sharing magical dream-like qualities of stillness and calm in the sensitive portraits of Eusebius and Chopin while demonstrating the true spirit of mazurka dance rhythms in a more exhilarating and cheeky Coquette, a passionate Florestan and charming romantic circular waltz shapes with Chiarina. Papillons flew lightly and poetically, never overly showy or grounded, while the contrasting Replique took us to the stagewith more robust and energetic syncopated steps. Farid carefully maintained the progressive development in strength and partial statement of the principal theme, careful not to reach the heights too early as we anticipated the final whirlwind and closing portrait. Farid himself demonstrated a picture of ease and relaxation – as waltz sections built and Paganini entered the Carnaval setting, with accelerations of tempo and increased dynamics becoming more formidable, beauty and colour remained first priority. With the Carnaval theme now fully developed in an exhilarating molto vivace orchestral setting for the final section, this audience was most excited and ready to be upstanding with their applause.
Julie McErlain reviewed the piano recital given by Amir Farid for the Peninsula Music Society at the Peninsula Community Theatre on August 6, 2023.