Alan Mandel, a panist who yields to no one in scope and variety of his program, played a stimulating recital at the Phillips Collection yesterday. Most of the music was American, a sort of bicentennial echo, but one composer, Charles Camilleri, is from Malta. His "From African Dreams" was a tolerably pleasant set of three pieces made up of pentatonic onoodlings over ostinato basses.
Two powerful and significant were played: MacDowell's Celtic Sonata, a broad and sonorous romantic work with a lovely slow movement, and George Rochberg's Carnival Music, 1975, which shows that a genuine composer can do with various popular idioms.
Less successful as a piece of music, although wel played, was William Albright's "Grand Sonta in Rag, 1975," a sort of homage piece to Scott Joplin. The Stream did not rise as high as the source. As a footnote, it must be said that at the start of the last movement, the Behemoth Two-step, the pedals fell off the piano. Intermission was declared early, and after a respite (during which the technical staff of the Phillips Collection reattached the pedals) Mandel came to blows again with the behemoth.
The Rochberg pleased the audience enough for an encore, which turned out to be Gottschalk's "The Union," in honor of the inauguration. This presents various patroitic airs in the tattered finery of the mid-19th century, including Hail Columbia in cahoots with Yankee Doodle.