Much of his repertoire is just beyond pianist's reach

April 07, 1997|By Pierre Ruhe | Pierre Ruhe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Excerpts from two Russian ballets made an exciting conclusion for Terrence Wilson's piano recital Saturday night, presented by the Candlelight Concert Society at Howard Community College's intimate Smith Theatre in Columbia.

Prokofiev and Stravinsky are, in many respects, the twin heirs of Rimsky-Korsakov, that 19th-century master of compositional brilliance and character and a pioneer of modernism. Prokofiev rested his tunes on satin harmonic pillows.

Six pieces from "Romeo and Juliet," a story of blue-collar love, provided Wilson with his best vehicle, as he made Prokofiev's big statements sound especially bold and percussive.

Scenes from Stravinsky's "Petrouchka" -- three excerpts of dazzling color and pageantry -- lay just beyond Wilson's technical reach. The music suffered. Cross rhythms and singing lines were muddled, even as glitter shone through.

Haydn's F minor Andante with Variations opened the program. It's a large-scale work bridging the gap between Bach's "Goldberg" Variations and Beethoven's "Diabelli." Like its cousins, Haydn's Variations are a microcosm of mood and technique manifested in subtleties. Wilson handled the repeated rhythms of its main theme with detached interest, never haunting the listener. The connected trills had a mechanical sound.

Wilson's cautious account of Schumann's Humoreske kept contrapuntal lines clear, although he never managed to crawl inside the music and was thus unable to convince us of his -- or Schumann's -- spontaneity or inventiveness. Many pianists find the work's logic difficult to make plain. So too did Wilson: His reasoning remained convoluted. Commanding, full-throttle runs often didn't carry into the next passage, as he'd ease the pace if difficulties impeded his progress.

The recital left us with the impression of an ambitious young pianist -- Wilson is a student at New York's Juilliard School -- still trying out new repertoire, still testing his interests and limits, and as anxious as we are to learn where he'll make his mark.

Pub Date: 4/07/97

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