Duo-pianists Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale combined an elegant program with elegant playing last night in the final guest-artist concert in the University of Maryland piano festival.
Choosing French works of the 19th and 20th centuries, these impeccable stylists revealed that subtle virtuosity which makes them masters of the two-piano art.
Their refinement of touch in selections by Erik Satie was exquisite, matching the deceptive simplicity of the music with an effortless execution equally deceptive in its easy grace.
In Poulenc's "Sonate Pour Deux Pianos," a work of unfailing style if not substance, Gold and Fizdale moved blithely through shifts in mood and pace without missing a nuance. Before playing the sonata, which was written for them by the composer, Fizdale engagingly related a story about their long wait for the music. When at last a packet arrived from France, he explained, there was no sonata. Instead, there was an apology from Poulenc for the delay and a little waltz to play as an encore until the larger work was ready.
The pianists had a chance to display their coloristic skill in Debussy's "Prelude a l'Apres-Midi d'un Fuane," a fascinating two-piano version done by the composer himself. The closing work, Bizet's "Jeux d'Enfants," was a nimble joy, played with a special transparency and clarity ideally suited to the French style.
Tonight it will be the competitors' turn in this week of the piano at the University of Maryland. The three International Piano Competition finalists, whose names were announced last night, will each play a concerto with the Baltimore Symphony under Sergiu Comissiona. They are Michael Blum, 23, of New York, who will play Schumann's "Concerto in A Minor"; Ian Hobson, 27, of England, who will play Rachmaninoff's "Concerto No. 3"; and Marioara Trifan, 29, of California, who will play Prokofiev's "Concerto No. 2."