Boris Berman, whose background is Russian, does not actually play the piano, but he magically creates pure music by his amazing touch and excellent conceptions.
In the recital, which was one of the finest in the history of the Mänttä Music Festival, he was enthusiastic enough to play a program consisting of the preludes by Debussy in a fairytale manner. One has very seldom a chance to hear such richness and balance of sound!
Berman showed how to realize the continuous change of dynamics and the clarity and fogginess of sound in the most ideal way.
He was like the mythical Blacksmith Ilmarinen from the Kalevala. When he forged the world, he remembered to include all the details, not forgetting the colors of the sunrise and sunset.
Berman also proved that these musical pieces, performed usually one or two at a time, form an actual unity. Each prelude was now a prelude for the next one. Each piece seemed to stem from the previous one.
Also, the difference between these two books of preludes became evident: the first book was like vibrations of inner states of mind and dreamlike pictures, while the second one reflected pictures created by images from the outer world.
Berman charmed the audience with the misty preludes, like the softly glowing images of
Voiles and Brouillards as well as with thorny and mischievous pieces like La danse de Puck.
One of the most dramatic moments of the evening was the intoxicating motion and stormy ecstasy of Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest.
On the other hand, there was an amazing serenity and clarity in the prelude that describes an Egyptian urn.
The change from the strong wind of Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest into the simple and pure beauty of La fille aux cheveux de lin was an excellent example of the differences in dynamics of the preludes.
And finally, all that Berman did was self-evident, wise and thought-out – and still fresh and created at the moment.