Partly Mozart

by Mark Greenberg
March 2006

David Pavlovits
Weill Recital Hall
Nov. 2, 2005

As Modest Mouse often says, “We all float on.” I mean, we’ve all been here before — am I right or am I right? In another age, one might have written of Pavlovits that he is “an artist to his fingertips.” Come to think of it, isn’t that what I’m doing right now?

Well, not quite. I would rather say “He is an artist to the tips of his very long fingers,” not to mention a fairly persuasive argument for reincarnation. Or do I mean “rebirth?”

Almost instantly, David gave the impression of a pianistic guitarist. Perhaps it was the presence of a Steinway onstage — a literary technique known as “foreshadowing,” even though the Steinway was actually stage-rear. But more than that, his was a very linear and contrapuntal way of traversing the fingerboard. Not for nothing did the program start with Bach. Secondly, one had the impression of a soul of unusual musical purity, perhaps that of Lizst, Mozart, Chopin, or some amalgam of the world-soul of all three. Don’t ask me, I’m not Modest Mouse.

Anyway, to get back to the here and now, so to speak, David played his own transcription of the Bach G minor Sonata (in original tonality — not easy, as I like to say) and the Fugue showed exceptional clarity of line. Pavlovits’s left hand shows admirable independence of fingering, each one seeking (and invariably finding) its own voice, as per J.S.’s specific instructions. As for the Presto, I may have seen faster playing, but I really can’t remember when (as Johnny Cash and Shel Silverstein used to say).

Mozart on the guitar does not usually work, but David Pavlovits’s transcription of the Fantasy in D minor was so apt, so carefully chosen and beautifully transcribed, that it might just as well have been played on a piano, and perhaps could have been. (Foreshadowing — but more of this later — for the nonce, you, gentle reader, will have to wait!) Anyway, there was plenty of gorgeous tone color, vibrato, magnificent runs ending in climactic snap and flourish so typical of runs up a piano keyboard, but rarely, rarely on a fingerboard do they come.

Arpeggios were full and clear as chords rolled on a keyboard. You get my drift.

Listen, the biographical data is that David Pavlovits started playing the guitar at age 17. Three years later, he was playing in public and winning competitions. What are the chances of that happening without a deck stacked in your favor? Fingers? Yes, he’s got those great long fingers that resemble nothing so much as a spider, weaving in and out of fret positions, spinning a web of sound. Not for nothing is one of Pavlovits’s compositions a Tarantella. Other of his compositions, Amethysts and Fingerprints, are collections of sensitive sketches, Hungarian and otherwise. More recent is Relics, a sonata based on a trip to Mexico and a most impressive piece of work. Pavlovits shows great promise as a talented idiomatic writer for the guitar, though perhaps harmonically he has yet to develop an entirely distinctive voice.

Guitaristically, the evening concluded with a fine performance of Ginastera’s magnificent Sonata, magnificently played. For a great masterpiece, the Ginastera Sonata is not encountered all that often — and it is easy to see why. David was up to all of its many technical and musical demands and brought most of the audience to its feet for an encore.

But such a work as the Ginastera Sonata is a hard act to follow on the guitar. For his encore, Pavlovits set down his guitar and turned to the Steinway to play Scriabin’s Prelude in A minor. Of another artist, Roland Dyens, I had written “He would do equally well on another instrument.” In Dyens’s case you will have to take my word for it, but here we had empirical proof. A second encore — Scarlatti, what else, it’s my karma — showed the same continuity of soul, same phrasing and musicality, identical clarity and articulation of line.

To paraphrase Mozart, David Pavlovits will give the world something worth listening to. Possibly — next year — on the violin.


I must mention that another manifestation of David’s very generous soul is that he showed up at the NYCCGS monthly meeting the day after his Carnegie Hall recital — this time, coming straight from a gig at The ICP for his fellow Hungarian genius, the late, great photographer Andre Kertesz — and at this writer’s request played Pavlovits’s Greatest Hits- 3 Relics and the Presto from the Bach Sonata, as well as selected Amethysts. Again, even on the fly, David played wonderfully well. Like I said, we would hear from him — and we did!

At the artist’s request, let me also add the address of his new website — —from which can be secured information regarding Mr. Pavlovits’s CD and publications.