by Tham Ai Mei (The Star, April 2004). Donated by Michelle Kay
ENTHUSIASTIC teens, elderly folks, children and loads of female fans,
started to fill up the seats at Stadium Putra, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur
last Thursday night. An impressive grand piano was placed right in the
middle of the makeshift stage. By half past eight, the time had come for the
much-awaited concert of the handsome Croatian pianist Maksim.
Moments later, lights dimmed and the crowd worked itself into a screaming
frenzy as anticipation rose for the appearance of the musical genius.
Suddenly a lean, tall figure strolled out onto the podium, and the crowd
practically yelled themselves hoarse as the lights came on and Maksim, clad
in simple black shirt and pants, made his way to the piano.
Immediately one thing was for sure: Maksim presented a very romantic vision
of an intense, talented pianist.
From Croation Rhapsody to Claudine to Cubana, Maksim has his audience
mesmerised throughout his concert.
Soon the multi-coloured spotlights were focused on the star as he proceeded
to start pounding on the Yamaha Disklavier grand piano to the frantic pace
of the famed The Flight Of The Bumble Bee. With a close-up of Maksim and his
deft fingers projected onto a large video screen behind the stage, everyone
had the chance to savour the dexterity and sheer magic of the pianist as he
lost himself in the music.
Staccatos were executed with precision and most of the audience looked as it
they were slowly but surely being enveloped in Maksim's world of electro-pop
and classical piano tunes. The back-up bass guitarist, drummer and
five-female strings section were the perfect foil for the frenetic piece.
What a great start indeed!
Grieg's Piano Concerto In A Minor was presented next. With one majestic
gesture, Maksim brought life to a single chord, marking the start of his
second piece. Electric keyboards were interspersed with the imposing tune,
and classical music never sounded so intriguing.
The tall musician stood up soon to interact with the crowd. As expected, the
crowd went into yet another screaming frenzy, with some girls yelling:
"Maksim, I love you!" Slightly embarrassed, the amicable pianist said: "You
are the best crowd I have ever played to." With a playful grin, he added:
"And no, I don't say this to every audience that I play to."
Handel's Sarabande was spiced up with some funky disco-beat as Maksim once
again became engulf-ed in his musical haze. The dignified piece was truly
brought to life in this raw performance. This was followed by the
faster-paced Croatian Rhapsody.
More screaming ensued as Mak-sim picked up the microphone again to let the
crowd know that he had infused something special to his repertoire that
"This is something that is not found in my album (The Piano Player). It is a
song called Olympic Dream which I have composed for the official CD for the
Olympic games this year," said the gifted one before gracefully taking his
seat in front of the piano. As expected of a song fit for the Olympics,
there was a dignified and solemn feel to it. A female soprano provided the
ethereal vocals as Maksim proudly showcased a truly beautiful tune.
The magnificent arrangement that is Exodus, from Maksim's album, filled the
hall next. Maksim was clearly in his element, filling the hypnotic piece
with flawless flair. After the explosive applause subsided, the star once
again took the microphone to announce: "I will be presenting my classical
While the back-up musicians went off stage, the lights dimmed to set the
mood for a string of solo performances. The frantic chords of Dance Of The
Baroness were struck and once again the musician was clearly lost in his own
world, although it seemed as if many in the audience had gone along for the
In stark contrast to the audience's previous reaction to the music, there
was total silence as the pure classical pieces were played out. Photo
Gallery came next; at this point, it appeared as if Maksim lost some of the
audience's attention as the atmosphere became too serious. After the last of
the classical pieces was played out, the piano player took a break while his
back-up musicians treated audiences to the light-hearted, Caribbean-like
tune Cubana Cubana. Breezy percussions lent a tropical feel to the concert
hall, providing a brief respite from the slightly gothic feel of Maksim's
brand of music.
The expectant crowd went wild when the good-looking pianist bounded onto the
stage clad in his signature black sleeveless tee, black wrist band and
scrunched-up hair. Slightly bashful but nonetheless ready to go, Maksim
proceeded to treat his audience to the sedate Claudine. Reverie-inducing and
sweetly mesmerising, the piece was played out effortlessly.
Soaring violins brought Wonder-land to new heights as Maksim pounded
furiously on the keyboards to a catchy disco-pop beat. Truly magnificent!
The grand finale came in the form of a techno Rhapsody On A Theme Of
Paganini, which swept this writer right off her feet with its intoxicating
Soon after, the tireless pianist waved to the crowd, signalling the end of
the night. As expected, the crowds were not satiated yet and started
chanting: "We want more!" even as the entertainer headed backstage.
It seemed a relatively short concert, considering that the show started at
8.40pm and it was barely 10pm when Maksim waved goodbye to his adoring
audience. Was that it?
Murmurs turned to shouts of joy as the obliging maestro came bounding back
onto the stage to present his encore piece of the sultry Cubana. What flair
he displayed as he played the tune with renewed enthusiasm and zest! The
crowd just could not get enough of him as they screamed for even more as
Maksim courteously waved his goodbye once again.
But there was more!
Playfully putting up one finger to indicate he would only be playing one
more encore song, Maksim then did an impromptu Flight Of The Bumble Bee sans
backup musicians. The audience was totally bowled over by his sheer genius
and were really sorry to see the concert come to an end. It had indeed been
a magnificent musical extravaganza.
While Maksim's brand of music might have its detractors, it is safe to say
that classical music has not been so palatable in a long while.