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PERFORMING ARTS

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But it was Morten Lauridsen's "Lux Aeterna" that stole the show. Built on liturgical texts that all have to do with light, this 1997 work is absolutely radiant -- even exalting -- with a kind of rapturous joy running through it. Scribner led a lyrical, delicately nuanced performance that was not only stunningly beautiful, but had the rare and unmistakable ring of truth in every note.

-- Stephen Brookes

Lise de la Salle

At 19, pianist Lise de la Salle already has Prokofiev well in hand -- both hands. The second half of her Sunday recital at the Mansion at Strathmore was all Prokofiev, and it was a triumph. De la Salle did not so much play the Sonata No. 3 as attack it, using the contrasting delicate episodes to make the return of the Allegro tempestoso that much more intense.

There was plenty of surface flash in "The Young Juliet," the first of six excerpts from "Romeo and Juliet." The chordal sections of "Minuet" and dissonant grotesqueries of "Masks" were intense. "The Montagues and Capulets" was dramatic, as were the quick rhythmic changes of "Mercutio." But the emotionalism of "Romeo Bids Juliet Farewell" seemed more feigned than genuine.

De la Salle was at her pinnacle in the explosive sonic eruptions of the Toccata, Op. 11, with its perpetuum- mobile flavor and tremendously difficult hand crossings.

The program's all-Mozart first half was not quite as successful. Mozart's piano music looks easier on the page than Prokofiev's, but it requires an interpretative maturity that de la Salle does not have quite yet. The pseudo-orchestral Sonata in D, K. 284, was a little pedal-heavy, its elegant side subsumed into overdone drama. The dark-hued Rondo in A Minor, K. 511, was lacking in nuance. And the "Variations on 'Ah, Vous Dirai-Je Maman' " ("Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star") were more serious and forceful than necessary. It is a fair bet that the talented de la Salle's Mozart will sound quite different in 10 years -- or even five.

-- Mark J. Estren


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