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Richard Goode, one of the world's preeminent pianists, has long been known for the finish of his Bach, the richness of his Brahms and the clarity of his Mozart. That was all there during his Sunday evening concert at Strathmore, a presentation of the Washington Performing Arts Society. Yet this sublime performance, drawing on a rich-hued palette and a seemingly boundless sense of good taste, also revealed an artist equally adept in the floating harmonies of Debussy.
Goode gorgeously brought out the color and character of Book 2 of the French composer's Preludes, a grouping of a dozen miniatures from 1913 that evoke abstruse people, places or events. If one missed the program notes that describe how, for instance, "Ondine" depicts the German myth of a sea maiden in search of a soul, the music still stood on its own. The vital rhythms and ethereal chords lent the reading its own unity and cohesion.
From front to back, Goode's account was a marvel of forethought and subtlety. Playing of great softness in such moments as "Canope" seamlessly merged with more propulsive sounds, as in the Spanish-inspired rhythms of "The Gateway of Wine." Though unerringly precise and nuanced, this playing possessed deep communicative power. There was as much good humor in "Homage to S. Pickwick, Esq., P.P.M.P.C." (portraying a character out of Dickens) as there was deep mystery in "Heather" (of unknown inspiration).
The first half, filled with longtime Goode specialties, left little doubt that this artist could negotiate the structural and emotional demands of the featured Debussy. Whether in Bach's Partita No. 5 in G, BWV 829, Mozart's Rondo in A Minor, K. 511, or Brahms's "Fantasies," Op. 116, Goode rendered themes as though characters in a larger narrative. With enormous nobility and unfailing judgment, Goode balanced voices, deployed a warm tone and applied texture to let the music grow naturally, sounding stunningly fresh and alive.
-- Daniel Ginsberg
In a boldly dynamic recital at the National Academy of Sciences on Sunday afternoon, pianist Terrence Wilson proved he is a studious type of performer who thrives when he is allowed to push his playing to sonic extremes.
Wilson had a tendency to favor the louder end of the spectrum; Liszt's "Funérailles" gave him the opportunity to flex his decibel-generating muscles. In his hands, the piece was almost cathartic, with earthy bass chords ringing out with a sharp vehemence and relenting for delicately rendered melodies in the upper range of the piano.
His concentrated pianism was well suited to Samuel Barber's flinty Sonata, Op. 26: From the bombastic opening line to the scattering raindrops of ethereal notes, Wilson played with command and directed all his energy effortlessly into the keyboard.
Such techniques served him well in Schubert's temperamental Sonata in A Minor, D. 784, where he also explored the Steinway's full tonal range and produced tender, sweet phrases that sounded almost fragile when compared with the rapid cascade of scalar passages.