Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa returns to Toronto after TSO ban, lets her fingers do the talking

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Lisitsa performs live on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in London on June 19, 2012.
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After intermission, there were more miniatures: Tchaikovsky’s Children’s Album. The Sick Doll was an exercise in extreme melancholy (children must be schooled early in the fine art of being sad) and the Waltz had balletic charm. Treble flourishes in the Song of the Lark illustrated how even easy pieces can benefit from the handiwork of a virtuoso.

Of course, extremely difficult works, among which Rachmaninoff’s Sonata No. 1 can confidently be numbered, benefit all the more. It would be hard to imagine a more impetuous and tempestuous performance, orchestral in its use of the keyboard and bracingly articulated, notably in the finale, which was taken at a true Allegro molto.

As in Tchaikovsky, Lisitsa read from the music. We can deduce that these are new additions to her repertoire. I could have done with the stabilizing voice of Beethoven in the first half. Lisitsa has enjoyed some success with this composer. Her You Tube treatment of the finale of the Moonlight Sonata is closing in on 13 million hits.

After a full endorsement of the Rachmaninoff by the sold-out crowd, the first encore was given not by Lisitsa but her page turner, Anastasia Rizikov, n Royal Conservatory student. She delivered ‎Albéniz’s Triana with colour and zest. Then the golden-haired star of the show presented Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. My preference in this barnstormer is for steadier rhythms. But since my scalp was tingling at the end, all academic criticism seemed moot.

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