Reprinted from yesterday's late edition.
Listening to music and hearing the notes are two different things all together, and performers whose playing compels the former are to be taken seriously.
Liliane Questel is one of these. The young Haitian pianist, who studied with Leon Fleisher at Peabody Conservatory, performed a big romantic program at the Renwick Gallery Wednesday night.
It started with the Bartok Sonata in a booming performance that was not always in focus but, in its quieter, more contrapuntal passages was exceptionally well thought out.
The eight pieces of the Villa-Lobos "Prole do bebe" No. 1 followed. They are not terribly interesting as a set, but were played with real competence.
Both the Liszt "Funerailles" and the enormous Brahms F minor Sonata No. 5 were particularly engrossing, not because they were perfect - they were not - but because, especially in the quieter sections, they were so poetically musical.
Questel does not have the reserves of strength needed to delineate big stormy passage cleanly, but she does have the instinct and the intensity to shape phrases with great beauty; so in the Brahms, while the third Scherzo movement lacked bite, the preceding Andante made up for it with its surpassing loveliness.