Edvard Grieg Society brings world-class music to NYC

Pianist Carine Gutlerner’s comet passes through again

Photo courtesy of Carine Gutlerner
World-renowned Franco-Belgian pianist Carine Gutlerner performed to an ecstatic full house at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in November in a concert presented by Edvard Grieg Society, Inc., New York, and Star Concert Productions.

Rolf Kristian Stang
New York

Whether as concert pianist, conductor, composer, or performing demonstrated skills in other aspects top-level music making, Franco-Belgian Carine Gutlerner lights up the stage. We have through her many performances in New York come to know this Renaissance woman well. On Oct. 29, in a concert presented by the Edvard Grieg Society, Inc., New York, and Star Concert Productions at Carnegie Hall’s elegant Weill Recital Hall, she made a stirring return. She was, as we’ve grown used to, in full command of her challenging and varied program.

We would hear Mozart’s “Fantasia in c minor;” Beethoven’s “Sonata 23, Opus 57, in f minor, ‘The Appasionata’;” “Prelude, Choral and Fugue” by César Franck;  “Erdenklavier, Himmelklavier, no. 2,” by Péter Eötvös; and Béla Bartok’s “Sonata.”

The full house picked up on Gutlerner’s preparedness and subsequent assurance immediately, as they responded with very appreciative applause. Excitement came when runs were begun at quick tempos: she brought them off flawlessly. The audience was clearly drawn in as much by her commanding playing as by the evening’s outstanding choice of repertoire.

The very well known Mozart and Beethoven pieces, which comprised the first half, were offered with the kind of depth that comes from a life-long familiarity with their contours and established heights.

Before the evening’s music began, Gutlerner, standing at stage center, greeted her public and commented briefly on her selection of pieces. These comments reflected wide experience and a very ample frame of reference to draw upon. In addition to her career as a pianist, Gutlerner is known as a choral conductor and a composer. She has composed and performed her own music, for instance, for films, including “Anne Frank’s Diary” and “Nana,” of 2016, among other films.

Moreover, as a recognized graphic artist, Gutlerner published an art book entitled Traits de mémoire, Oeuvres graphiques. The book won the Prix Botticcelli in 2018.

The second half of the concert began with a very special work, the famed “Prelude, Choral and Fugue” by Belgian composer, César Franck, a composer beloved by this writer. An interesting and certainly unintentional thing happened here. As this deft pianist and strongly impelled teacher, sought to demonstrate the piece’s form, deeply rooted in the Baroque tradition, it took on a kind of German character, very eloquent, but without the usual expected French-Belgian Franckian colors and nuance. The clarity of the demonstration was unmistakably successful, however, since the audience again burst into loud appreciative applause.

Gutlerner is known for her performance of contemporary music, in addition to the classical repertoire. The two intriguing, atmospheric final works, by Hungarians Eötvös and Bartok showed her to be a pianist of distinction in repertoire close, “Sonata,” 1926 (the Bartok), and much closer “Erdenklavier, Himmelklavier,” 2007 (the Eötvös), to our time. Enthusiastic applause was heard again.

A renowned teacher, Carine Gutlerner, presently holds a tenured position as professor in piano performance at France’s Erik Satie Conservatory. This Renaissance musician is, further, much in demand to conduct master classes in Europe and the United States. In New York City, we will be waiting for her return.

The Edvard Grieg Society, Inc., New York, was founded in 1991 by Per Brevig, critically acclaimed conductor, virtuoso trombonist, Julliard professor, and champion of Scandinavian music. Under his leadership, the society has produced recitals, chamber performances, radio broadcasts, symposia, and more, as it promotes international musical exchange on both sides of the Atlantic. For more information, visit www.perbrevig.net.

This article originally appeared in the January 10, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Rolf Kristian Stang

Rolf Kristian Stang is an American vocalist, educator, actor, advertising executive, and writer. He has been the beloved Hans Christian Andersen storyteller at NYC's Central Park for over 25 years. He was decorated as a knight with the St. Olav medal by King Harald V of Norway, has been named to the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame, and was the recipient of the Sons of Norway Leif Eriksson Citation in the millennium year 2000.