Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Each summer around this time, just as one is beginning to feel a vague dissatisfaction with the unsubstantial musical fare that seems to accompany hot weather, there comes the University of Maryland's International Piano Festival and Competition to liven things up.
What began modestly 13 years ago as the American Matthay Festival has grown over the last eight years into a week packed with performances by competitors from around the world, and master classes, lectures, workshops and recitals by some of the world's finest pianists. Among the artists participating this year are Jeanne-Marie Darre, Charles Rosen, Joerg Demus, Jean-Philippe Collard, Adele Marcus and Lili Kraus, who will present gratifyingly varied programs during this coming week, the whole thing culminating on Saturday evening when the competition finalists perform with the Baltimore Symphony.
Alicia de Larrocha opened the festival Sunday at Tawes Theater by performing all four books of the Albeniz "Suite Iberia." Now some artists are commonly thought of as "pianists' pianists," the other end of the spectrum being the "crowd pleaser," and there are performers who fit into every slot between these two. But DeLarrocha is a different story. Her artistry encompasses both extremes wholeheartedly and uncompromisingly.
Playing this Albeniz (which is as completly her music as anything could be), she set what one hopes will be the tone for the rest of the festival. She delighted the audience with an outpouring of Iberian flavor and spirit. She instructed them with the most beautifully controlled touch, use of pedals and rhythmic discretion. And she moved them with a sensitivity that conveyed common sense, humor and love.