The stage was perfect with an antique Steinway on the black floor against the immaculately white background, so pristine, with the portraits of the masters Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin towering over the stage that was so elegantly set for the piano concert.
Typical of Cristine Coyiuto, she magnificently reflected the qualities and characteristics of the selections she played. Mozart’s Sonata No. 16 in C Major as described by Cristine herself in the printed program, “requires clarity, simplicity and elegance,” which she demonstrated in full measure, as she did “the beautiful, graceful second movement’s tenderness and nostalgia” and the “delightful, humorous” Rondo finale.
In Beethoven’s Sonata No.3 in A Flat Major, the program notes observe that “the first movement opens with a lyrical, almost ethereal” melody with the pianist delineating the piece with such delicate grace, rendering the ensuing arpeggios and trills in impeccable nimbleness and swiftness.
The daunting challenges of the second movement “terse, burly, abrupt, at times comical and totally out of character with the rest of the sonata; the middle trio sections’ sforzandos, jabs, wide leaps and crossing of hands especially tricky for the fingers”— requiring concise, succinct, crisp yet with much accuracy, expression and articulation, specially for passages with the crossing of hands – were met with technical mastery and emotional depth by Coyiuto. She left the audience in awe as she interpreted the sonata’s “triumphant close with a sweeping arpeggio and a fortissimo climax,” while establishing her enviable place among our leading pianists. Impressively, she infused this piece with sensitive feelings, leaving the stage teary-eyed.
All of Chopin’s six pieces were familiar, some overly so but Coyiuto made them sound new and spontaneously fresh; Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, Valse in A Flat Major, Fantasie Impromptu in C Sharp Minor, Etude No. 11 (“Winter Wind”) and Etude No. 12. She exuded the passion, the drama, the nostalgia, the haunting beauty distinctly and variously required by the technically complex works, Coyiuto pointing up Chopin as the most innovative, creative, original composer way ahead of his time.
For a change, I extensively quote the program notes which, for obvious reasons, do not include the pianist’s manifestation of her widest range of dynamics or her uniquely graceful style of playing. The prolonged, clangorous applause and standing ovation brought on two more encores: Mazurka op. 68 No. 1 and Contredanse, both by Chopin, the first as mind-blowing as most of the previous ones were.
Cristine’s supportive husband James Coyiuto, the eminent business executive, took to the stage as emcee before the concert and explained that “audi” in Latin means “listen” and how appropriately the concert was being held in the Audi auto showroom.
This recital was a tribute not only to Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin but also and most of all to God.