Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Omar Mejia plays the piano as if he regularly warmed up with push-ups instead of scales. Not that there is anything wrong with his scales or any other facet of his technique. It is just that the first and most lasting impression one gets of his playing is of strength and speed.
The young pianist from El Salvador performed at the Pan American Union Wednesday, playing the Bach "Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue," Beethoven's "Waldstein" Sonata, short pieces by Plaza and Servellon, and Liszt's "Harmonies du Soir" and "Mephisto Waltz."
The Bach and the Beethoven were smothered in the excessive exuberance of Mejia's playing, the Bach sounding tough and hard, and the Beethoven - well - fast is the one word that comes to mind, very fast. It was amazing, in fact, that it could be played with such clarity at that speed, but Mejia's push-ups have paid off and he is in unusually good technical shape.
Plaza's "Sonatina Venezoiana" and Servellon's "Poema 10" were more suited to Mejia's style. The Sonatina is a busy work with some nice,faintly decadent style.
Mejia chose some of Liszt's showe but also less interesting, a work rooted in the 1920s' faintly decadent style.
Mejia chose some of LIszt's showier pieces to end the concert and played them to the hilt. Both depend on bombast to give them shape, and they got lots of it.
Mejia has more technique in his little finger than a lot of pianists have in both hands put together. If he learns to use it with restraint, he could be superb.