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Young Pianist Elizabeth Joy Roe Enchants Seattle Audience at Town Hall
By Elena Goukassian
Posted February 7, 2008

Elizabeth Joy Roe

    On February 2, The Virtuoso Piano Series at Town Hall kicked off the new year with a recital by recent Julliard graduate Elizabeth Joy Roe. Ms. Roe performed a variety of pieces, from Classical to Contemporary, Beethoven to Gershwin, inserting her own reflections on the music in between each selection. After the concert, I was able to interview a few members of the audience, all of whom were delighted by the young pianist's performance.

    Ms. Roe began with Bach’s Prelude in B Minor, as transcribed by Russian pianist Alexander Siloti. Ms. Roe herself described the Prelude as “serene and dreamlike,” which is exactly how she played it—with skill and emotion.

    Next came the Etude Fantasy by John Corigliano. Ms. Roe performed this very demanding piece with great intensity and seriousness. It was well-played and with a hint of mystery that kept the audience captivated.

    From the modern sound of Corigliano, Ms. Roe jumped to Beethoven's Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110; “from the sundry to the sublime,” as she put it. This, Ms. Roe performed with the same amount of feeling and dedication as the Corigliano, proving her ability to capture the spirit of very different styles of music. I found that the first movement was particularly good and, throughout, the Sonata flowed really well from one part to the next, from one  emotion to another.

    Following intermission, the program included several short pieces by Bedrich Smetana, George Gershwin, Franz Schubert, Richard Wagner, and York Bowen. One of these, Gershwin's The Man I Love, Ms. Roe herself had arranged. One attendee—John, a University of Washington graduate—said this was his favorite piece of the night, describing it simply as “exceptional.” Ms. Roe's arrangement, though complicated and virtuosic, still rang true to the melodiousness of the original.

    In contrast to the Gershwin, Schubert's Gretchen am Spinnrade and Wagner's Isoldens Liebestod, both arranged by Franz Liszt, dealt with what Ms. Roe referred to as “the more serious and tragic side of love,” once again demonstrating Ms. Roe's breadth of musical abilities.

    The program officially ended with Bowen's Toccata, Op. 155, and, all in all, the audience was very impressed with the concert. “Outstanding! I loved the unique interpretations.” proclaimed Beryl Knauth, a local counselor. “[Ms. Roe's] ease at the instrument made her audience at ease,” observed a listener who asked to remain anonymous, “It was all obviously thought through and heartfelt.”

    After a few warm rounds of applause, the pianist returned to play Sergei Rachmaninoff's transcription of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's famous Flight of the Bumblebee. It was a perfect end to a very enjoyable recital.

 For more information on the Virtuoso Piano Series at Town Hall and its upcoming concerts click here


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