Tomsic's distinguished Brahms

October 28, 1997|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

Dubravka Tomsic's piano playing Sunday evening in the Shriver Hall Series was warm and communicative. The Slovenian pianist was at her best -- in the works on the printed program at least -- in the two Rhapsodies (opus 79) of Brahms and in selections from Ravel's "Miroirs," as well as the "Toccata" from the French composer's "Le Tombeau de Couperin."

Tomsic's Brahms was ruminative and inward, distinguished both by a delicacy of coloring and a grasp of structure. And her frequently hypnotic ability to color a phrase was heard to equally fine effect in the Ravel pieces. "Oiseaux Tristes" was portrayed with refinement of feeling and avian exquisiteness; "Une Barque sur L'Ocean" conjured up the tumult of the waves; and "Alborada del Graciosa" was filled with Hispanic bite. If a few of the repeated-note passages in the latter sounded slightly labored, Tomsic was more successful in the virtuosic perpetual motion of the "Toccata."

The second half of the program was devoted to the Four Ballades of Chopin.

Few pianists can play all of these pieces with equal success; Tomsic was no exception. She was at her best in the Third Ballade, the lightest, prettiest and most graceful of the four. This performance had a singing line and a perfectly shaped contour. There were many beautiful moments in the other ballades, but also a few -- such as the "presto con fuoco" sections of No. 2 and the coda of No. 4 -- in which the pianist sounded cautious and dutiful, rather than inspired. Typically one of our best Chopinists, Tomsic was slightly below her usual form in this material.

She returned to form in her encores: a Scarlatti sonata, in which the composer's wide leaps at high speed landed with unerring accuracy; de Falla's "Ritual Fire Dance" (from "El Amor Brujo"), performed with a hair-raising sense of occasion; and Alexander Siloti's transcription of Bach's B minor Prelude, in which Tomsic evoked an otherworldly sense of beauty and repose.

Pub Date: 10/28/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.