One of Kansas City’s musical greats has just made another leap in his quest for international acclaim.
Behzod Abduraimov is the superstar pianist you've never heard of, according to NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence. He studies with Stanislav Ioudenitch at the International Center for Music at Park University in Parkville.
At the age of 18, Abduraimov won the 2009 London International Competition. Now 21, he has released his debut album on the Decca Label: Prokofiev: Sonata No. 6; Liszt; Saint-Saëns.
In 2010, Ioudenitch told KCUR's Alex Smith about the two pianists' shared background in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.
“We are from the same school, and he was studying with a lady who is one of the greatest teachers for kids,” Ioudenitch says. “I didn’t study with her—I studied with her rival—but both of them were fantastic. Behzod is my student, so we have a great ending.”
Abduraimov's new CD features the music of Prokofiev, Liszt and Saint-Saen. It's won rave reviews from critics in the US and the UK. One called his technique “more than a little startling.” But his performance has also been called “subtle” and “refined."
Not unlike some other pianists of his generation, Abduraimov goes for the grand gesture in a big way. But the results are enthralling, not grating, thanks to the wit he infuses into each movement. A good example is his dry, nearly tongue-in-cheek take on the Saint-Saëns Danse Macabre that opens this album, in the super-flashy Liszt/Horowitz transcription version.
Abduraimov has also selected quite a bit of Prokofiev for this initial outing: the Suggestion Diabolique as well as the Sixth Sonata. And even as the two-and-a-half-minute Suggestion does point (albeit ironically) to the excesses of Romanticism, Abduraimov brings moody darkness — and even a real sense of desperation — to the sonata. This is not a quality that many high-riding young pianists of the 21st century are able to evince at the keyboard with much conviction, but Abduraimov doesn't wear modernism lightly: He articulates Prokofiev's lines with pungent sharpness.