George Foca-Rodi  
New York Daily News A Pianist From the Past Thursday, March 31, 1983


ROMANIAN pianist-composer George Foca-Rodi appears to be one of the great undiscovered treasures of the current musical scene.

He didn’t get a very big crowd for his Alice Tully Hall recital Tuesday night, but never mind—those who attended enjoyed one of the most thoroughly enchanting musical experiences of the season.

Foca-Rodi is an unprepossessing. bald, middle-aged man whose facial demeanor never changes from the deadpan, but the kind of music making he produces seems to traverse the range of musical expresslon—stark, tragic drama, heady excitement, sweet poetry and harmony, fantasy, and humor in all aspects.

His style of playing harks back to another era of romance, when pianists were audaciously unafraid to give every piece of music their own Imprimatur, yet at no cost to the composers Inner message.
A few years ago, the one-time child prodigy Erwin Nyiregyhazi.

was temporarily coaxed out of retirement In his mid-70s to make a few records. These were among the most freewheeling old-time romantic piano performances ever heard— certainly In recent generations.

His range of expression and dynamics was extraordinary, his touch at the keys superhuman and his uncanny use of the pedal created Its own orchestral accompaniment.

Nyiregyhazi unfortunately has returned to retirement (and he wouldn’t give a public concert in any case), but in the meantime, we have more than a reasonable facsimile of his awesome talent In Foca- Rodi. All the aforementioned virtues credited to Nyiregyhazi were present In abundance at Foca-Rodi’s recital Tuesday.

How many pianists can play Chopin In such a manner as to almost literally transport the listener back. to that composer’s era and to his life itself? And how many keyboard artists can take Debussy’s "La Cathedrale Engloutie” and turn it into a sonic experience akin to a full orchestral transcription?

In fact, Foca-Rodi’s performance of the Debussy work strikingly resembled what can be heard in this piece on an Ampico piano roll as rendered by the late E. Robert Schmitz, another pianist from a near-vanished era of pianistic vision.

But Foca-Rodi isn’t all seriousness, as could be heard in two of his own compositions, Another Cadenza for Brandenburg Concerto No. 5” and How Lili Marlene Met Petrushka.

The first quoted and improvised on -Bach’s themes with admirably subtle wit, and the extensive second selection is a masterpiece of outrageous parody on the very themes you might expect.

Interestingly enough, Foca-Rodi originally called this piece "A Russian In Berlin...Almost In Paris,” but when he recently played it in a Washington concert, Caspar Weinberger, who was in the audience, insisted to the composer that he give his new work the title ‘How Lili Marlene Met Petrushka.”

At any rate, Foca-Rodi is a definite musical find. When he schedules another concert, by all means—go!

George Foca Rodi