Avery Gagliano

Saturday, January 27, 2024 · 7:30pm

Program included: Bach, Schumann, Fauré, Medtner and a world premiere of “Timelapse” by Alistair Coleman.

At the National Chopin Competition, Gagliano gained international attention as both the winner of the first prize and the best concerto prize, after which András Schiff invited her to take part in recitals across Europe.

Avery Gagliano will play an 1905 Steinway & Sons Model D concert grand piano. Learn more about this exceptional piano.


French Suite No. 4 in Eb major, BWV 815, Johann Sebastian Bach


Humoreske Op. 20, Robert Schumann

Einfach und zart
Sehr lebhaft
Mit einigem Pomp
Zum Beschluss


Timelapse (2023) *, Alistair Coleman
World Premiere

Nocturne No. 4 in Eb major, Op. 36, Gabriel Fauré

Sonata in A minor (“War Sonata”), Op. 30, Nikolai Medtner

*Commissioned by Avery Gagliano

Avery Gagliano appears by special arrangement with Curtis on Tour, the Nina von Malzahn global touring initiative of the Curtis Institute of Music.



A sold-out house greeted Avery Gagliano January 28 for her program of pieces composed over a span of 300 years: Bach, Schumann, Faure, Nikolai Medtner, and a world premiere of Timelapse, which she commissioned from her Curtis Institute school friend, Alistair Coleman.

Wearing a blue silk top, black slacks, and three-inch-heel sandals, Gagliano played for nearly two hours on a refurbished 1905 Steinway. Although its case and cast iron plate are original, all else—soundboard, bridges, hammers, dampers, and new key levers—are newer (and sturdier) replacements.

Interesting to hear Gagliano perform Bach’s “French” Suite in E-flat on a modern instrument, so unlike the original (and more percussive) harpsichord or clavichord. Composed in the early 1720s, the Suite’s triple-meter Courante, Menuet, and Gigue complement the Allemande, Sarabande, Gavotte, and Air, both in meter and tempo.

“All week I’ve been sitting at the piano and composing and writing and laughing and crying, all at the same time,” Robert Schumann wrote to Clara Wieck from Vienna in March 1839. “You will find this beautifully illustrated in my Opus 20, the great Humoreske.” Gagliano introduced Schumann’s 25-minute suite as “fragmented and episodic.” Indeed: In one section Schumann repeats a five-note idea as if it were a stutter, before continuing the phrase, fortuitously foreshadowing Alastair Coleman’s angular “Timelapse” later in the program. As Humoreske alternated between B flat Major and G minor, one heard hints of Debussy, Ravel, and Chopin.

Following intermission Gagliano performed “Timelapse,” which she commissioned last year from her schoolmate Alistair Coleman, who has also composed for cellist Zuill Bailey, the Abeo Quartet, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, among many others. Coleman has described the piece as “a simple, shuddering image, similar to time lapse photography, presenting the illusion of a rapid unfolding.” Its kaleidoscopic shifts, angular chromaticism, and roller-coaster right-hand runs contrasted periods of moonlit clouds and quiet contemplation, hinting at the Ravel Nocturne that followed in the program. Playing the new piece was the only time during the evening Gagliano used sheet music.

Gabriel Fauré is said to have admired the music of Chopin, and it was apparent in Gagliano’s performance of the Nocturne No. 4 in Eb major.

Nikolai Medtner (1880 – 1951) is only recently becoming recognized as one of the most significant Russian composers for the piano. The younger contemporary of Sergei Rachmaninoff and Alexander Scriabin, Medtner composed his lengthy one-movement Ninth Sonata in A minor without a title, but among his friends it was known as the “War Sonata.” In her introduction, Gagliano suggested the audience listen for the sounds of ringing: church bells, cannons, sounds of battle. This listener heard hints of nursery rhymes, scampering mice, and flocks of birds swarming off a cliff. Off the mark, perhaps, but equally enjoyable.

Acknowledging the standing ovation, Gagliano offered yet more magic in an encore: the second movement of Ravel’s 1905 Sonatine (Mouvement de menuet), an exact contemporary of the piano on which tonight’s concert was performed.

Paul Baker
Host of WORT-FM’s Listen Adventurously