The Cayman Arts Festival is aiming high as it launches its autumn season with an opening performance on Oct. 14 by outstanding young pianist Matei Varga, who will no doubt delight Cayman’s music lovers.
Born in Bucharest in 1980, New York-based Varga has already established himself as one of the leading young artists of his native Romania. His prodigious talent is fast becoming recognized in the United States and Europe, and he is already considered to be the true heir of an incomparable tradition that includes pianists Dinu Lipatti, Clara Haskil, Mindru Katz and Radu Lupu.
In recent years, Varga’s artistry has received standing ovations from audiences around the world and superlative reviews from prominent critics. Noting that “it is hard to find the right words to describe the beauty” of Varga’s playing, the legendary Italian critic Paolo Isotta praised the young performer as a “true poet of the keyboard, a musician of depth, and a genuine artist.” Other critics have found his performances “impressive” (Gramophone, 2016), “magical” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2009), “colorful, vivacious [and] engaging” (Le Diapason, 2012), “luminous” (ConcertoNet, 2011), and “spectacular” (Adevarul, 2013).
Varga’s concert in Cayman will be dedicated to the composer and pianist Dinu Lipatti on the centennial anniversary of his birth. He will also perform works by Scarlatti, Mozart, Schubert, Enescu, Liszt and Chopin.
“I wish we could celebrate Lipatti this year as a 100-year-old man,” says Varga, “a legendary artist, who has a five box-set CD collection available in the ‘Greatest Pianists of the Century’ series, with a critical edition of his own piano sonatas and concertos and with a third printing of his collection of essays and concert reviews.
“Succumbing to leukemia at the age of 33, Lipatti’s output as a performer would be barely sufficient to earn him a spot in a stuffy encyclopedia under normal circumstances; and yet, with only a few hours of recorded music and a handful of original compositions, his name has become synonymous with artistic perfection, which is notoriously [difficult to achieve].
“It is my privilege to bring you some of his piano solo works, as short and yet burningly vital as his own life, along with some pieces by composers whom he revered and performed like no one else.”
Winner of the “George Enescu” prize in Bucharest and laureate of the “Maria Canals” competition in Barcelona, Varga was also a runner-up at the Young Concert Artists International auditions in New York City. He has appeared as a soloist and recitalist in many of the world’s leading concert halls, among them Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall (New York), Konzerthaus (Berlin), the Auditorium du Louvre (Paris), National Center for the Performing Arts (Beijing), Palau de la Música (Barcelona), and the Romanian Athenaeum (Bucharest).
He holds degrees from the Romanian National University of Music, and the Mannes College of Music in New York.
“Matei is a magician on the piano and his music is able to touch people’s hearts,” says Marius Gaina, executive director of the Cayman Arts Festival. “I still cannot believe that we have managed to bring such an artist to Cayman. This was made possible through our event sponsor, Ogier, and we would like to extend our warmest thanks to them for their invaluable support in making this event available to the Cayman public.
“Their support will also have an educational impact, as Cayman Arts Festival will be able to hold a workshop that will be hosted by Matei Varga with students from the local public and private schools.”
A nice surprise for the audience will be the artistic debut of young Caymanian pianist, Cameron Gilson, 14 years old, from John Gray High School, who will open Matei Varga’s concert.
The concert will be held on Oct. 14 in the Westin Governor’s Ballroom at 6 p.m. Tickets are US$50 for adults and US$15 for students. The ticket price covers the cost of the concert and one hour of open bar. Tickets can be bought at www.caymanartsfestival.com. For more information, email [email protected] or call 922-5550.