Allan Fuller perfoms Mozart at the Steinway Gallery
By Forrest Hartman ~ 6/9/2009
For years, pianist Allan Fuller mostly avoided the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But recently, the Double Diamond-based pianist decided it was time to take a serious look at the composer's work.
"Sometimes, I get almost obsessed with certain composers," Fuller said. "I've done the Beethoven obsession and shared that locally. I've done the Chopin thing twice with local audiences. A few months back, I was digging away at some Mozart stuff that I'd played and I thought, 'It's time to just completely immerse yourself,' which is what I've done. ... I've literally listened to nothing and played nothing but Mozart for four or five months now."
Fuller's obsession is part of a new project that will go on public display Friday when he plays an all-Mozart show at the Steinway Piano Gallery of Reno. The program will benefit McQueen High School's music department.
Fuller, 53, has long balanced his love for classical piano with a management career in the casino industry, and he currently is executive director of table games at John Ascuaga's Nugget. Despite working nine- to 10-hour days at the casino, Fuller said, he is dedicated to a piano practice schedule on par with that of many professional musicians.
"I'm pushing the envelope as much as I can," he said. "On my days off, I'm doing four-hours-a-day sessions, and then I try to plug in as many three-hour evening sessions as I can handle, especially when I'm getting ready for performances."
Fuller said the schedule can be tiring, but he loves playing. Also, he said, balancing the duties of casino executive and solo pianist has worked well for him.
"For me, it's all about the music in terms of just the exploration and really just polishing the playing and the performance style," he said. "What's kind of nice for me is I don't get locked into a promoter saying, 'Alright, we want you to play this, this, this and this.' ... I can say, 'What music am I really the most interested in digging into?' Then I can schedule a performance and craft the journey."
As a youth, Fuller planned on making music his primary career, and he holds bachelor's and master's degrees in piano performance. He has also made two appearances at the Van Cliburn Foundation's International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, and he has played numerous concerts both in the U.S. and Europe.
Still, Fuller has never made his primary living as a pianist. Rather, he took a summer job as a card dealer and turned it into the career he has today.
With his Mozart project, Fuller said he plans to dig as deeply into the composer's piano works as possible, hopefully playing a series of Mozart-only shows in Reno.
For years, Fuller said, he mostly avoided Mozart, largely because he so admires the talent of his brother, Richard Fuller, a professional pianist who lives in Vienna and specializes in Mozart.
"Part of it was some sibling intimidation, and part of it is his (Mozart's) music," Fuller said. "There are fewer notes than, say, Liszt or Chopin or some of those types of composers, but it's very difficult to pull it off. ... I think you have to be at a certain emotional point because his music has a certain simplistic nature to it, but it's actually very complex. In terms of the sheer energy, there's more energy per note in his music than there can be in some of the more lush, broader-based composers. ... As a performer, you're very exposed."
Fuller is looking forward to his Friday concert as the first leg of his Mozart journey, and he's pleased that the show will benefit McQueen High School.
"I've been lucky," he said. "I don't need to make money doing this. It's best to help the community. ... It's a passion, and you want to share it with people."
Under the Stars with the Reno Chamber Orchestra at Bartley
By Jack Neal ~ 7/16/2002
Since Harrah's Reno Casino is a collaborator in these events, along with - principally - the Robert Z. Hawkins Foundation, it's entirely fitting as well as fascinating to include one of Harrah's employees, Allan Fuller, Director of Table Games, as piano soloist.
Fuller and Harrah's have gotten considerable mileage (including a Fuller feature on ABC's Good Morning America) out of what seems a contradiction of lifestyles. To Fuller's credit, he's more than just a flash-in-the-pan oddity. He really can play the piano. Happily, his talent to please in the here and now is extensive.
Pianist Impresses with Gifted Style
By BARBARA TILLY World Guest Reviewer
(Wenatchee, Washington) The audience at the Saturday night "Friends of Music" concert was delighted to have another opportunity to hear pianist Allan Fuller. A Peshastin native, Fuller possesses unquestionable music gifts. Combine that with piano works that are richly imaginative and you have the makings of a great concert. All aspects of Fuller's playing are impressive, but as previous Wenatchee audiences have noted, his treble melody voicing and impeccable technique are outstanding features. In each movement of the opening "Sonata Pathetiquc Op.13 in C minor" by Beethoven, the clarity of the melody lines and ornaments was refreshing.
The allegro di molto e con brio movement is full of sudden contrasts. Fuller responded and maximized every opportunity for contrast. The much loved adagio cantabile movement contained examples of beautiful phrasing of the lovely melody line. Fuller kept the spirit and drive of the allegro movement going to the last C minor chord.
Brahms' intermezzi for piano are characterized as sensitive, extremely emotional and very thickly textured. With all thinner' voices it is difficult to keep the voice leading defined. Fuller "pulled" the piano whispered with a tensile richness of sound.
Debussy's "L'isle Joyeusc" is an Impressionistic Period treasure. Fuller accepted the constantly changing technical demands of this composition and gave a brilliant performance, Fuller's boldest strokes came in Liszt's "Sonata in B minor."