The following article written by the classical music critic Mary Kunz Goldman was published in the Buffalo News on May 9, 2011.
The pianist Igor Lipinski, 24, is just about through with his graduate studies at the Eastman School of Music, and he is going to be crafting a career from music and magic. If the concert he gave Sunday at the Montante Center is any indication, he has the potential to become something unique.
Lipinski presented a taut program that was part music and part magic. It was maybe an hour and a quarter long, with no intermission. With all the talk these days about marketing and packaging music differently, he should be admired for these innovations.
He began with what appears to be his signature piece, “Fantasy on the Mind of a Virtuoso.” He played the concluding fugue from Bach’s Toccata in E minor. This is a fascinating piece, and you don’t hear it much. And this was fine, expansive playing. Lipinski’s hands were perfectly in sync, and the music had a churning momentum. The articulation was good. The piece was shaped with imagination to maximize the excitement. When it ended — it was a great ending — Lipinski launched his trick. He chose a guy from the audience and had him shuffle a deck of cards and then set a metronome to count 15 seconds. They really should have had an ancient, flea-market metronome, but a modern model did the trick. While it ticked, Lipinski memorized the sequence of the cards. Then he played the Bach again while calling all the cards in order. This was impressive. If you play the piano, you know that to say anything while you are playing requires a certain skill. That Lipinski could recite this sequence of 52 cards with the Bach bubbling away merrily the whole time, it was mind-boggling. He even gave the music witty twists. Bravo! Lipinski is a fine pianist, and the pieces he played after that, he played with polish and verve. The repertoire was, like the opening Bach, off the beaten track, Siloti’s arrangement of a Bach prelude was in itself its own kind of magic, as Lipinski said it would be. The right-hand figures had a hypnotic effect. And as he explained afterward, the lower melody was hidden until he brought it out. Stravinsky’s Tango for Piano, beginning with rolled, rumbling chords, was another highlight. You don’t hear this piece nearly enough. Lipinski followed it by his own arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s “Oblivion.” In Shostakovich’s Prelude and Fugue in E Minor, he played up the music’s shifting colors. He paced it well. He has good showmanship instincts. As a pianist, Lipinski is a professional. As a magician, he is a very talented amateur. As far as the magic went, Lipinski’s Polish accent does not hurt. Neither did his skinny tie.