Kyle Farley-Robinson, left, Jon Hays, center, and Dr. Alexander Tutunov play “Romance And Waltz For Six Hands Piano” by Sergei Rachmaninoff during the Juneau Piano Series featuring Tutunov at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Kyle Farley-Robinson, left, Jon Hays, center, and Dr. Alexander Tutunov play “Romance And Waltz For Six Hands Piano” by Sergei Rachmaninoff during the Juneau Piano Series featuring Tutunov at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Look ma, 6 hands: Piano concert begins on unusual note

Recital includes 6-handed performance and classical music’s Mount Everest

Not every piano recital is just some guy or gal at a bench.

Alexander Tutunov’s Friday night piano recital began with a sight you don’t see every day: a six-handed waltz performance. That means that there were three pianists on the same bench sharing space, coordinating and playing a single song.

“We thought to start with something that would be like dessert,” Tutunov said.

Tutunov’s two hands were augmented by Jon Hays, organizer of an ongoing piano series and former student of Tutunov, and Kyle Farley-Robinson, who will play the next installment of the series in February.

Hays said the idea was a lighthearted and unusual way to start the recital, which is part of a monthly series at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center.

[Juneau favorite shines light on B-Liszt composers]

The playful tone carried through when Tutunov performed a solo recital.

The main course of the recital featured works by Franz Schubert and Franz Liszt, including a piece Tutunov said might be the “Mount Everest” of classical music, Liszt’s Sonata in B minor. It’s about 30 minutes of continuous music with no movements.

Some theorize it is an interpretation of the Faust legend, which concerns a man selling his soul to the devil in exchange for ultimate power and knowledge.

While Tutunov said that interpretation isn’t a certainty, it does help inform his performance of the sonata.

The music alternated between loud and soft, melodic and cacophonous. Over the course of a half hour, it oscillated between passive and arresting.

“Now and then, the music just takes you off into the clouds,” Tutunov said.

When he finished the half-hour piece, first there was quiet, but soon the audience was on its feet to applaud Tutunov, who played one more short piece to close out the night.

The conclusion of the recital also received a standing ovation.

• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or Follow him on Twitter @BenHohenstatt.

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