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Nov 13, 2010
Chris Waddington, The Times-Picayune
New Orleans, Louisiana

Noon is an impossible time for many performers, but it hardly troubled Petronel Malan when she headlined Tulane University's "Music at Midday" series on November 3. The South African native (and avowed night owl) popped the cork on a couple of musical rarities - a thunderous, 1918 piano sonata by American composer Charles Tomlinson Griffes, and a quotation-strewn set of Beethoven Variations by Schumann disciple Stephen Heller. Malan's electrifying performance made me wonder why these works aren't part of the mainstream repertoire. It also revealed some of the qualities that earned her a Grammy Award nomination. Malan has steel fingers in speedy passages, a great ear for tonal colors, a remarkable sense of musical architecture and the emotional intensity of an operatic diva. Please come back soon, Petronel


Malan: An Unforgettable Concert Experience
Stefans Grové, Die Beeld


A German poet once said: “no master simply descends from heaven at the heights of their powers.” Mastery is born through talent, hard work and persistence. To this extent Petronel Malan has now reached such a high level of artistry that she is competitive in the international arena.
Her pianism displays strikingly equal control over both the colouristic as well as the brilliant bravura potential of the piano. To this one can also add two special qualities that are relatively scarce amongst pianists today: real technical control over sensitive pedal work, as well as her calculated pianissimo sound quality. Her technical abilities as well as interpretative scope knows no bounds, and to hear her play is a special experience!
The program was structured in the form of a crescendo with a climax at the end of each half. The first half a crescendo from Mozart to Liszt, and the second from Brahms to Liszt.
In the faster sections of Mozart’s Sonata in C, K330 Malan’s finger work was as clear as the sheen of pearls, complimented by impressive control over the dynamics. The effectiveness of her dynamic precision visually comparable to control over light and shade. The Andante contained particularly touching nuances in her cantabile playing.
Liszt’s Sonata in B minor represents a historic milestone in the Sonata as a genre. It shapes discord between the dramatic and lyrical, between violence and tenderness – tenderness for which Robert Schumann (to whom this work is dedicated) was so highly prized. Malan’s performance of this tone poem emphasized her understanding of both the larger [macro] structure of the work and her imaginative control over the micro structure – an unforgettable experience!


Petronel Malan Hypnotizes Audience With Sterling Playing
March 17, 2006
Pretoria News - Riek van Rensburg

The capacity audience was stunned by the swathes of virtuoso sound that Petronel Malan's playing conjured up. But there was tender, loving care as well. Liszt's Sonata in B Minor received a towering performance.
One can only say that Malan's ideas were more acute than arbitrary, a richly personal response to the composer's demands for freedom and fantasy, while not ignoring the religious undercurrents.
Such was her magic and focus that the results were fascinating and hypnotic, particularly backed by such sterling pianism. Malan's playing of Brahms' 16 Waltzes, op. 39 was gracious, affectionate and polished.
The technical demands of Mozart's Sonata K. 330 were surmounted with nonchalant ease.
The strongest asset here was her ability to pick from the incessant activity just those notes that carried the essential line of the work.
Inherent in Malan's playing of the Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 was a rhythmic vitality, always under control, that swept along with its momentum, subtly varied articulation and dynamics that followed the natural rise or fall of phrases without exaggeration.


Sublime Display of Artistic Expertise
Eastern Province Herald - Rupert Mayr

PETRONEL MALAN, piano Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Arts and Culture in collaboration with the Distell Foundation for the Performing Arts. NMMU Auditorium.
Even though pianistic virtuosity played a major role, mere technical display never took the lead in the works Malan included in her well-balanced programme.
Clear and transparent tone, precise fingerwork in runs, arpeggios and figures stressed the playful approach that characterized her interpretation of Mozart sonata in C major, K. 330.
It was only in some sharp dynamic contrasts and lyrical lines where she pointed at the expressive or darker elements never totally absent in this music.
The agglomeration of pianistic problems coupled with sheer physical demands easily turns Liszt Sonata in b minor into a feast of exhibitionism. Who wouldn't be impressed buy those hammering chords, those thundering octaves and those jumps all over the keyboard? And who wouldn't enjoy those peaceful interludes with song-like melodies surrounded by glittering figures and ornaments?
It all was there, even the occasional use of body weight to lend extra impact to the hands crushing down onto the keyboard.
But, and thanks to Malan's artistic sense, this was only the means to make this gigantic, almost symphonic work a musical portrayal of an enormous struggle between diametrically opposed emotions: The "two souls dwelling in one breast" constantly fighting each other, a concept so typical of the romantic mind.
Forever varying sound colours not only showed the wide range of moods Brahms covered in his Waltzes Op. 39, but also approximated this string of miniatures tot he level of Schumannesque ball-scenes.
Finally it was back to Liszt. Not satisfied with the excruciating multitude of technical demands already contained in Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2, Malan added Rachmaninoff's Cadenza for another challenge.
No wonder a capacity audience reacted with a standing ovation, for once really merited. A witty fantasie on a well-known tune from the Sound of Music then closed an evening of exciting pianistic display.


Petronel Malan, Classical PianistPetronel Malan – World Class
Piano recital (Odeion) by Petronel Malan.
Die Volksblad – Elretha Britz

PETRONEL MALAN is a superb pianist. World class. She currently makes her living by just playing concerts all over the world. The only other South African that could be mentioned in the same breath, is the pianist Anton Nel, who also resides in the United States.
Petronel raises herself to an astonishing level since there is always a personality present in her concerts: A dynamic that goes far beyond technique - as if a piece of “Petronel” is always observed in her performance. Her clear approach to each work, immediately places you inside the music.
Mozart's Sonata in C major K.330 received a porcelain-sound with charming passages and an unheard of lightness. In Liszt's large 30 min-long Sonata in b minor her imagination shined on each facet of the work. Forceful sounds in strong contrast to crystal-clear pianissimo-passages and pensive melodies, emotions deeply explored, and a range of sounds and colours one can only admire.
The technically equally challenging Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 of Liszt followed Brahms' 16 Waltzes op. 39. An easy choice on the ear...
In the contrast of light and familiar, "easy" (Waltzes) and the virtuosic dimensions (Rhapsody) Petronel underlines her pianistic abilities in the broadest sense.
Under her fingers, everything seems and sounds easy.
She transforms standard-concert repertoire to glorious creations structured on a rock solid pianistic technique. She articulates melodies from thundering to playful with the composer's voice always present and speaking through the music - and more: You hear Petronel in the music - the mark of a great pianist.
It was truly an astonishing experience. Petronel released 2 cds: Transfigured Bach en Transfigured Mozart. Buy both - it is world class playing.

Please, click on selected headlines to read reviews:

NEW YORK CONCERT REVIEWER (Harris Goldsmith)
Carnegie Recital Hall
October 16, 2000

WEB REVIEW (Paul Boekkooi)
Unisa Conference Hall, Pretoria
November 7, 2001

GEORGE HERALD (Wayne Muller)
“Extraordinary Recital”
George, South Africa
October 18, 2001

PRETORIA NEWS (Riek van Rensburg)
“Pretoria pianist comes home: Petronel Malan elicits full houses and standing ovations”
Aardklop Festival, Potchefstroom, South Africa
October 5 and 6, 2001

THE CAPE TIMES (Deon Irish)
Symphony concert
Nico Malan Theatre, Cape Town
November 2, 2001

DESERET NEWS
Salt Lake City
June 24, 2002

KLONDIKE SUN (Timothy Coonen)
A Classical Evening
Dawson City, Yukon, Canada
Nov 10, 2000

FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM (Punch Shaw)
“Program soars, despite absence”
Van Cliburn Hall at Bass Hall, Fort Worth, Texas
January 28, 2002

FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM (Punch Shaw)
“3 works, 2 guest artists and 1 superb performance”
Van Cliburn Hall at Bass Hall, Fort Worth, Texas
March 10, 2003

THE ARGUS
Cape Town, South Africa

FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM (Larry Swindell)
Fort Worth, Texas

IL BORGHESE
Rome, Italy

THE TRANSVALER
Johannesburg, South Africa

THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL
Memphis, TN

CAPE TIMES
Cape Town, South Africa

THE ISLAND PACKET (Jane Shaw)
Hilton Head Island, SC
December 14, 2000

THE NEW YORK TIMES (Adam Baer)
“Online Music Virtuosity”
February 1, 2001

NEW ORLEANS TIMES PICAYUNE
“New Orleans Keyboard Competition”
August 9, 1999