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World-Class Talents on Our Small-Town Stage

Ilya Kazantsev and Sergey Antonov

Ilya Kazantsev and Sergey Antonov

Photo: Sanford-Springvale Historical Society

By Morton Gold

OK, Tom Brady could be described as a football player and Willie Mays as a baseball player, but these descriptions are obviously incomplete. In the same way, Sergey Antonov could be described as a cellist and Ilya Kazantsev as a pianist. These descriptions would not let folks know that Brady and Mays were superstars in their respective sports, while Antonov and Kazantsev are as gifted on their respective instruments. This pair, who have performed all over the planet to rave reviews, gave a performance at the Sanford Springvale Historical Museum on May 11 before a small but distinguished audience.

The museum has marvelous acoustics that are especially suited to performances by small groups of performers. Invited back many times by Harland Eastman, the founder and recently deceased president of the museum, this pair only added to their sterling reputations.

Incidentally, don’t feel bad if you had never heard of Kazantsev or Antonov before; I don’t know who now plays second base for the Red Sox. If one likes to watch soccer, then baseball may not appeal to you. Fans of Taylor Swift might not even be aware of Lady Gaga, and so on. Sadly, there is a divide separating fans of one area from all the others. It is my hope that one day Kazantsev and Antonov will be heard and admired by millions because of their talent and musicianship.

The pair began Saturday’s concert with a performance of Liebestraum (Dreams of Love) by Franz Liszt, arranged by Gaspar Cassado. It was apparent (to me) at the outset that Antonov has a rich, sensuous, yet full-bodied tone. From the depths of the lowest C string to the rarefied uppermost registers, from piano to forte, he is in full control. His technique is always used to convey the inner meaning of the music. Kazantsev is no mere accompanist, but rather a full partner in the performance of each selection. The museum’s Bechstein piano can convey all manner of pianistic timbres, but only if one can command the piano to yield these qualities. In Kazantsev’s case, it did.

I could go into some detail about each selection, but space doesn’t permit that now. In memory of Mr. Eastman, the duo concluded their program with a performance of Kol Nidre by Bruch with a right on and in-tune, sustained harmonic.

If I have whetted your appetite to hear this pair, good. They will be at the museum again on Nov. 9. While a sold-out house at the SPAC is what they deserve, an overflowing crowd at the museum would be a credit to the reputation of the music-loving residents of York County.

Dr. Morton Gold is a composer and pianist and former professor of music at Nasson College.

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