Edward Newman is a young Washington pianist who has lately been covering himself with the glory that comes from playing the piano beautifully enough to win major competitions. The most recent of these was the Casadesus Competition in Cleveland, which Newman won in August.
Listening to his recital yesterday afternoon in the Phillips Collection it was easy to understand Newman's victories. In his playing he continually seeks for beauty of thought and for ways to express that beauty through his fingers. There was not a single percussive sound in his entire program, which began with the Italian Concerto of Bach and closed with the Symphonic Etudes of Schumann.
Newman showed a special perception of the necessary function of the pedal in Bach, and then, in Ravel's "gaspard de la Nuit," vastly enlarged his pedal work, making it one of the central factors in a poetic presentation. There were beautiful long stretches where his tone took on subtly-shaded colors. Only now and then did certain pauses seem slightly unduly prolonged in ways that slowed the best motion of the music.
A recent Third Sonata by Robert Muczynski profited in its excellent writing and lyrical vein from Newman's intense musicality. To the Berg Sonata, he brought large measures of the essential high romanticism of which it is a unique example.