Greece and Toledo, Mozart and Liszt.
These points of light are distant but related.
Bringing them closer together is the task that Greek pianist Lambis Vassiliadis will undertake this weekend when he presents a series of public concerts and meets with administrators at the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University.
Vassiliadis will present a free recital at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Great Gallery of the Toledo Museum of Art.
Featured will be Liszt's rarely heard transcriptions and fantasies based on a selection of Mozart's religious and operatic music, including; Liszt's Fantasy on Themes by Mozart – Figaro and Don Giovanni and the unpublished A la Chapelle Sixtine, which is based on themes of Allegri and Mozart.
Here the classical balance of Mozart will be stretched and embellished by the imagination of the 19th century's greatest keyboard virtuoso.
“These transcriptions challenge the pianist. You have to go beyond the technical problems and find the profoundness of the work. Liszt asks you to recreate an entire opera on the keyboard. To get there you have to read carefully the score and avoid being captured with the virtuosity,” said Vassiliadis earlier this week by phone from Greece.
“It cannot be forgotten that the great technical demands serve communication,” Vassiliadis said.
“The point is not to fascinate by doing the impossible but to touch and communicate. It's interesting to see the fingers running at superhuman speed across the keyboard, but that can be counterproductive.
“Instead, we have to see the religiosity and serenity that Liszt brought to the piano. Liszt was deeply philosophical and had a strong affiliation with the metaphysical. We have to use these ideas to express ourselves through his music,” he said.
When he is not performing, Vassiliadis teaches at the Ionian University on the Greek island of Corfu.
While here in Toledo Vassiliadis is also working to establish a framework to develop faculty and student collaborations between that university and both UT and BGSU.
“Such intercultural relationships are very important,” Vassiliadis pointed out.
“We have many differences, but also many similarities. My university is extremely interested in developing new lines of communication,” the artist said.
A native of Kavala, Vassiliadis has performed across Europe and the United States.
He studied with pianist Jerome Rose at BGSU in the early 1990s.
Pianist Lambis Vassiliadis will perform music of Mozart/Liszt and Brahms at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Great Gallery of the Toledo Museum of Art.
Vassiliadis will also be featured in a live radio broadcast at 10 a.m. Friday on WGTE's “Live From FM 91.”