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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 16, 2000. All rights
For Pianist Nazar, a Stop at a Hometown Station
Marie Nazar has now emerged as the name by which pianist
Mariam Nazarian prefers to be known as a performing artist. The
Plainsboro resident, who made her Carnegie Hall debut in October (U.S.
1, October 20, 1999) with Bach’s "Goldberg Variations" using
the invented name, plays at Nassau Presbyterian Church Sunday,
20, at 5 p.m., using her original name.
The preference for the name Marie Nazar represents the triumph of
her management’s advice over Nazarian’s original adverse reaction
against abandoning her identity. She plays the Nassau Presbyterian
concert as Mariam Nazarian because it was scheduled before the name
change arose. Her CD of the Bach "Goldberg Variations" to
be made available at the concert is to be marketed with the Nazar
"I’ve been busy since Carnegie Hall," says Nazarian, who has
been working on pieces for the Princeton concert since mid-December.
She plays Mozart’s Piano Sonata in F major, K. 332 and Debussy’s
"The Carnegie Hall concert made me look differently at my standing
in the music world," Nazarian says. "The big gain was that
I got experience. It’s very rare to have a performance there at 16,
and I have to treasure that moment." She performed commendably
in the concert. To quote from my own review for Classical New Jersey,
Nazarian’s performance, "was marked by clarity, accuracy,
pace, and sensitivity. She has a pleasing sound without harshness.
The performance was a tour de force."
Writing in the New York Times, James Oestreich, in a mean-spirited
article (October 28, 1999) took a different view of the concert. In
a prominently-placed story, which included an attractive color
of Nazarian, he said almost nothing about her playing and found it
objectionable that she attracted a rather full house, while a favorite
harpsichordist of his, who performed in its smaller Weill Recital
Hall, drew only a scanty crowd. At any rate, my guess is that rather
than remembering Oestreich’s comments, readers are likely to recall
that Nazarian was featured in an important article, that she looks
appealing, and that her selecting Bach’s "Goldberg Variations"
as a debut piece was a spunky act.
Nazarian is philosophical about what Oestreich wrote.
"I’m very sure in my interpretation. His article is just another
opinion. He could have been more realistic and mentioned good things
as well as bad. His article dealt with commercial success, not musical
points. His comparison was unfair. He compared me to a 39-year-old
harpsichord playing a Bach Partita in Weill. We worried about it.
But it passed by. It’s three months later now, and the article is
not a station where we have to stop. I’m sure that there are other
critics in the future who will react the same as Oestreich or even
— Elaine Strauss
Nassau Street, 609-924-0103. The free concert takes place in the
sanctuary. A dinner follows in the church assembly room for $5; dinner
reservations are required. Sunday, February 20, 6 p.m.
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