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Although the Komirenkos' farewell recital was held in this venue a month or so ago, the official grand opening of Bösendorfer Hall, the new performance space in the Ruggero Piano shop at 4720 Hargrove Road, was held at 8:00 p.m. on February 15. It featured the owner's brother, John Ruggero, at the keyboard of the Imperial Grand, which graces the stage in the hall bearing its manufacturer's name, and NC Symphony Concertmaster Brian Reagin, in a set of three violin sonatas. The piano itself had its debut in Fletcher Hall at the hands of Ignat Solzhenitsyn in a Raleigh Chamber Music Guild series program last October. See our archives for a review of that performance.
We traveled backwards in time as the evening progressed, starting with Debussy's Sonate composed in 1917, proceeding to Greig's Sonata No. 3, Op. 45, dating from 1887, and ending, after an intermission, with Beethoven's Op. 47 "Kreutzer" Sonata (which the composer described as a sonata for piano with violin), written in 1802, over a century before the opening work.
The performances were all truly fine. The Andante con variazione movement of the "Kreutzer" was especially lovely. It was immediately apparent with the first few notes of the Debussy just how much better suited to this music, both in the sense of genre and historical period, the tone of this piano is than many other area instruments. It has a warmth that a Steinway simply can't approximate. It also seemed better suited to the more intimate performance space. Balance between the instruments was well nigh perfect. These renditions were as good as many heard on recordings by big name artists.
The acoustics of the hall, which seats approximately 160, with expansion into the showroom through two sets of double doors possible, and actually necessary on this occasion, is quite good. It is not too bright, as is the case in Meredith's Carswell Hall, for example, but neither are details lost. Theatrical spotlights on the musicians and their music appeared too bright and made Reagin obviously a bit too warm for comfort, however.
The simple printed program provided concise informative notes about the music, prepared by John Ruggero, and artist bios. Missing only were life dates for the composers beneath their names and the date of composition of the Grieg. It was a model, a couple of typos notwithstanding, of what can be done in limited space and without spending a fortune, worthy of being emulated by others.This event was also the free appetizer for a summer chamber music series called "Overtones" that will begin in June and for which there will be subscription and admission charges, although the whole is partially underwritten by Bösendorfer. See our series tab for performance and ticket information.