Russian pianist rewards Super Bowl-skipping listeners
Russian pianist Tamara Poddubnaya filled Kresge with the sound of music Sunday night as a select group of community members, staff, and students abandoned the spectacle of the Super Bowl in favor of some real culture. The performance was sponsored by the Departments of Russian and Music.
Poddubnaya holds a Ph.D in piano performance from Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, St. Petersburg, Russia and is also a Dean of the Piano Department at St. John International School of the Arts in Maryville, Tennessee. Before she held this position, she taught at several institutions, such as the International Summer Music Academy in Kostomuksha, Karelia, near St. Petersburg.
Poddubnaya has extensive experience performing, including solo and chamber performances on radio and television in St. Petersburg, Italy, and Holland; festivals; competitions; and recitals in Georgia, Lithuania, Belgium, and Russia. She won several awards as a young pianist and then went on to judge competitions.
A woman with long, gray hair entered the room and sat down at the piano, then opened with Fantasy in D Minor and C Minor by Mozart. She took control of the song, able to effortlessly transition from light, cheerful melodies to triumphant, powerful notes. She played with great feeling, which she also conveyed through her expressions.
As if telling a story in a silent film, Poddubnaya smiled with a wistful expression or furrowed her eyebrows depending on the melody. Amazingly, she was able to look into the distance while playing without even glancing at the keyboard.
The ease with which she played the most complex arrangements coupled with her whimsical facial expressions generated delighted chuckles from the audience.
Poddubnaya wrapped up the first half of the program with two sonatas, Sonata in C Minor by Mozart and Sonata in E Major by Beethoven. These pieces allowed her to exhibit her generous talent. She was able to maintain a seamless melody on one hand while playing a completely different tempo on the other. A master of timing, Poddubnaya gave life to the music, creating rising and falling swells of sound, pitter-patterings of notes, and buzzing melodies.
Her energy was contagious. The tiny Russian woman was able to command the room, keeping the audience totally engrossed in her playing. One could not take one's eyes off of her as her showmanship nearly equaled her musical talent. She threw her whole body into her playing as if the music was emanating from somewhere within her.
Tina Ingraham, a painter from Orr's Island and instructor at Bowdoin, was impressed with Poddubnaya's performance. She said, "She's wonderful. She's very familiar with her repertoire. I particularly liked Mozart's Fantasy in D Minor. She took time with it and let it unfold."
Rio Watanabe '07 said, "She has really good composure on stage. She's a professional."
After a short intermission, Poddubnaya played selections by Schubert, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, and Scribiabin. However, Poddubnaya saved the best for last with Rachmaninov's Prelude in C sharp Minor. The notes resonated through the room with unparalleled power and presence. Her performance was immediately received with a standing ovation.
For information on sending a letter to the editor, please click here.