Moravec captures Schumann's poetry

February 18, 1994|By Kenneth Meltzer | Kenneth Meltzer,Special to The Sun

Ivan Moravec is a treasure, a pianist who combines extraordinary musical insight with a consummate technique that allows him to convey his intentions impeccably. Each of his concerts is a revelation, and last night's rendition of the Schumann Piano Concerto with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of guest conductor Eduardo Mata, was no exception.

Moravec's facility in virtuosic passages is above reproach, but it is his elegant phrasing and limpid tone that make his pianism unique. One could attend a lifetime of concerts without hearing the poetry of Schumann's work served so well. There was also energy in abundance, although Moravec's tone never turned harsh even in the loudest of passages.

Pianist Moravec and conductor Mata have performed the Schumann together several times and recorded the work for Dorian.

Their obvious affection for each other was displayed in the exchange of smiles before the performance and their warm embrace at its conclusion.

Their prior collaborations were certainly reflected in a performance that displayed uncommon unity between soloist and orchestra. Moravec engages in constant though subtle variations of tempo, but he and Mata were in unison from beginning to end.

Ivan Moravec is in that golden stage of a performer's career where a rich lifetime of musical experience is supported by undiminished physical powers. Anyone interested in great music- making should make every effort to attend one of the remaining performances.

The evening began with Dvorak's vibrant "Scherzo Capriccioso." Remarkably, this performance of the 1883 Dvorak work was the first in BSO history. Mata, the longtime music director of the Dallas Symphony and now its "Conductor Emeritus for Life" led a performance that may have been somewhat lacking in tonal polish, but ideally captured the work's unflagging brio. Orchestral attacks were razor-sharp, and the wide dynamic palette received its due. Mr. Mata also applied some elegant rubato to the work's lyrical moments. One hopes that Mata's persuasive account will inspire future programming of this unjustly neglected piece.

The evening concluded with Bela Bartok's supremely challenging "Concerto for Orchestra." The first two movements were for the most part well executed, with the brass chorales being of particular merit.

Performances continue tonight and tomorrow at 8:15.

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