Variety would have served pianist better

April 11, 1994|By Kenneth Meltzer | Kenneth Meltzer,Special to The Sun

The task of constructing a successful recital program can be as daunting as the performance of the works themselves. The challenge is to select pieces that both display the artist's strengths and provide sufficient contrast to maintain the listener's interest at the highest degree. Perhaps the obstacles are more profound when the program consists entirely of works by one composer. In any event, pianist Agi Rado's all-Chopin recital at Second Presbyterian Church demonstrated the pitfalls even an accomplished artist can encounter when programming is at issue.

Prior to intermission, Ms. Rado offered Chopin's Ballade Op. 47 No. 3, the Four Impromptus, the Opus 64 No. 3 and Op. 42 Waltzes and the Op. 60 Barcarolle. All exquisitely beautiful pieces to be sure, but works that are also uniformly meditative and introspective. The opening half of the afternoon, which consisted of almost forty-five minutes of reflective music, cried out for an occasional Polonaise, Etude or Scherzo.

Still, the quality of performance offered much pleasure. While Ms. Rado's playing on this afternoon was not technically impeccable, her singing tone was consistently pleasing without a trace of percussiveness. After a rather foursquare interpretation of the Barcarolle, she demonstrated some beautifully shaded playing in the Impromptus, where her sense of dynamic and rhythmic contrast was particularly engaging.

The two Waltzes followed in the same positive vein, while a generally sensitive and musical Barcarolle suffered from some technical miscues.

The afternoon concluded with a performance of the B Minor Sonata. The contrast in mood and timbre inherent in the work's structure provided the variety that was lacking in the concert's first half. For the most part, Ms. Rado captured the spirit of this work quite well, although there were some precarious moments in the work's agitated Finale. Still, the pianist offered a dramatic and highly musical interpretation of a glorious piece.

The afternoon was enhanced by the church's warm but not overly resonant acoustic and the beautiful sound of the concert Steinway, although I'm sure Ms. Rado had much to do with the positive sonic impression. The church's Annual Steinway Series continues on April 17 and 24 with recitals by, respectively, Gregory Sioles and Jeongwon Park.

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