Something Amiss in The WPAS Piano Series

By Tim Page
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 16, 2006

Anika Vavic's Saturday afternoon recital at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater proved a shocking deviation from the extraordinarily high standards that the Washington Performing Arts Society's Hayes Piano Series has set for itself.

If her concert had been an audition for admission to a conservatory, it is possible that Vavic might have won a place, but I doubt if any leading music school in the country would have accepted the results as a credible graduation recital. The program -- Mozart's Sonata in B-flat, K. 333, Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 35, and Prokofiev's Sonata No. 6 in A, Op. 82 -- was a succession of missed notes, memory slips, motoric rhythms, clattering fortes and sketchy phrasing. About the only thing Vavic managed with professional confidence and composure were her bows.

Harsh words, I know, and, under ordinary circumstances, I would have slipped out at intermission and never gone on to write them. But the Hayes Piano Series is one of Washington's great musical treasures and to see it fallen so far, even for a single program, can only dismay those of us who have come to count on it for some of the most reliably engaging and high-minded afternoons our city affords.

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