Latvian pianist Dzintra Erliha’s Carnegie Hall debut a memorable musical event

In a triumphant return to the United States, Latvian pianist Dzintra Erliha, in her Carnegie Hall debut, gave a solo concert at the Weill Recital Hall on Friday, February 9. In the intimate confines of the Weill Hall, Erliha’s performance was an impressive and memorable musical event.

Exhibiting the confidence of a pianist who has been performing for decades, Erliha’s resplendent and masterful performance included works by both Latvian and international composers.

Erliha has been at the forefront of championing the works of Latvian composer Lūcija Garūta, and, as a result of Erliha’s efforts, Garūta’s compositions have grown in popularity. One could feel the personal connection between the pianist and composer in Erliha’s performances of Garūta’s Etude ‘Leģenda’ and the 3 Preludes, with moments of both tenderness and strength.

Another highlight of the evening was the performance of Pēteris Vasks’ tragic work ‘Landscapes of the Burnt-out Earth’, the composer’s lament for the damage done to nature throughout the years. With its shrill bird calls and harsh atmosphere (though with the occasional moment of hope) , Erliha’s dramatic rendition of this work confirms that Vasks’ stark and immediate warning to the world is just as relevant today as when it was composed more than thirty years ago.

Erliha’s latest recording Serena, features compositions by both Latvian and American women composers, including distinguished Latvian American composers Dace Aperāne and Lolita Ritmanis (both of whom were in attendance that evening). Erliha has had a long and fruitful collaboration with both composers, and the works performed (Aperāne’s ‘New Moon’ and ‘Daina’, Ritmanis’ ‘Hope’ and ‘Beyond the Window’) were emotional and personal, bringing forth the rich beauty in all these pieces.

Legendary Latvian actor Ivars Stonins was the host for the evening and provided many biographical and musical notes on the pianist and the compositions.

The concert concluded with Erliha joined by violinist Una Tone and cellist Sasha Ono, and included the world premiere of Ritmanis’ composition “Vignettes From the Park”, composed specifically for this trio and this concert, and was a vivid and dramatic finale for this remarkable evening of music.

Erliha’s US tour continues with performances in Boston, Stetson University, Cleveland, Los Angeles, as well as a return to New York in September. Erliha is also releasing her next album – entitled Dreamscapes – later in 2024, which will feature piano music of the 21st century.

For more information, please visit Dzintra Erliha’s website.

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area . Kaljo began listening to Latvian music as soon as he was able to put a record on a record player, and still has old Bellacord 78 rpm records lying around somewhere.

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