When Ron Regev strides onto the stage to talk about the Beethoven piano sonatas he is about to play, the audience is immediately captivated by his youthful bearing, informal way of talking and encyclopaedic knowledge of his subject. Setting the topic in its musical, historical and philosophical context, he provides us with additional understanding and appreciation of the music we are about to hear.
Attending another of the series of recitals accompanied by explanations that Dr. Regev has been giving over the past few weeks at the Ein Karem Music Center, with its intimate atmosphere and rural setting, we are once again entranced and fascinated by Dr. Regev’s charm and talent. In fact, he is something of a phenomenon, having been appointed head of the Jerusalem Music Academy’s keyboard department at a very early age while continuing to pursue a successful career as a performing musician.
To see and hear Dr. Regev in the course of this series, at each of which he discusses and plays several Beethoven piano sonatas (no mean feat in and of itself) is to take a journey into the complex world of Beethoven the man and the composer, as well as to learn about his place in the musical world. Regev’s abilities and broad understanding of his field enables him to establish Beethoven’s connections with those musicians and composers who went before him as well as with those who followed him.
Seemingly without any particular effort, after giving a few introductory remarks, Regev strides over to the piano and plays a few passages from a piece by Schubert, then plays the corresponding piece in Beethoven’s Sonata no. 18 to demonstrate the similarities between them, concluding with a few bars from Saint-Saen’s piano concerto for additional emphasis. Needless to say, all the works he plays are infinitely complex, requiring the dexterity, concentration and musicality of a concert pianist, and this he achieves with what appears to be great ease.
Regev was one of the first musicians to use an ipad instead of musical notation on paper as an aide to playing. In this, however, he is no longer unique as it is becoming more and more customary to see musicians using the digital device. From where I was sitting I was fascinated to be able to observe the way the music appears on the screen and automatically progresses without any ‘human’ intervention such as having to take one’s hands off the piano keys to turn the page (or have an assistant at hand to do the work). Amongst other things, Regev serves as musical advisor to the Tonara company that has developed the program that ‘hears’ the music being played and automatically progresses to the next passage. On the screen the page is turned automatically, making life much easier for the performing artist.
Still, though scientific progress may be all well and good, it can never compensate for depth of feeling and the ability to convey emotion through the notes that are played, and this Dr. Regev manages to achieve with admirable aplomb.
And so, once again, an evening that combined an uplifting musical experience with enlightenment that was neither condescending nor trivialising came to a satisfying end with an impassioned performance of Beethoven’s sonata no. 23, popularly known as the Appassionata Sonata, whose ending with a bravura cascade of chords simply took our breath away.