Tuesday, May 1, 2012: Black Tuxedo, Black Piano

Opus Osm

Adam Skoumal performed Apr 28 as part of the FOK World Piano Series.

Not the Usual Man in Black Tuxedo, Seated at Black Steinway

When you go to a piano concert by Adam Skoumal, you find that there’s just so much to like — in addition to his brilliant playing.

We went to his concert smack in the middle of the humid, 5-day holiday weekend, on Sat, Apr 28 (holiday-makers could stretch the traditional May 1 observance across a long weekend). The Rudolfinum was only about half full for this concert by an internationally-recognized and often-awarded Czech pianist.

But Mr Skoumal came onstage with the house lights up, smiled intimately at the audience, bowed as if to say, “Well – here I am!” and then walked amiably over to the piano and began to play. Only then did the lights dim, a bit; and Mr Skoumal seemed unfazed by the small house.

He continued his usual practice of playing some of his own compositions onstage. What a great way to learn more about him, not only as a piano player, but about his perspective on music in general, as a composer. We especially like the way he introduced one of his four encore pieces, again one of his own compositions, by simply announcing, “Skoumal – Etude for the Left Hand.”

Mr Skoumal wrote his own, warm and interesting program notes for the evening’s performance, an insightful way to learn more about him, rather than just being the usual: man in black tuxedo, seated at black Steinway; program notes by an academic.

He also chose to share with us Schumann’s original version of the Sonata No 2 in G Minor, Opus 22, rather than taking the easy way out and substituting the later, more popular and more accessible version.

When the obligatory bouquet was accidentally brought to him before his final piece, he accepted the flowers and the applause, turned to the audience, and said, “But it’s not the end yet!” The audience laughed. After playing his own Variation on a Folk Song, he again turned to the audience and smiled, saying, “Now it’s the end.” Everyone chuckled.

But it wasn’t.

The audience wouldn’t let him go until he had performed four encores, and if Mr Skoumal hadn’t started to visibly tire a bit, we might all still be sitting in The Rudolfinum, listening and enjoying.

You can enjoy a snippet of Saturday’s concert by clicking on the video below. Mr Skoumal also has several other videos on YouTube, and has released several CDs; but the best way to enjoy his music, of course, is live. — oo

– Mary Matz

Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička

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