Two young Americans brought the house down at Wolf Trap last night, lavishing love and talent on the music of a fellow American who was young some 50 years ago. Teaming up for the finale of the National Symphony's all-Gershwin program, conductor Hugh Wolff and pianist James Tocco produced a performance of the "Concerto in F" that may have come close to the excitement of Gershwin's own premiere of the work back in 1925.
Tocco is, without doubt, one of the most talented of the current crop of pianists. He possesses an elegant touch and fluid movement that make him a joy to watch as well as hear. His insight was sure and his taste upfailing as he sounded the inner longing of the sweeping melodies with a rich tone and tossed off the playful rhythms with a delicious abandon.
Wolff matched him in every mood, evoking a mellow sound and fine swing from the orchestra. He and the symphony were also in top form for the opening "An American in Paris," Possibly inspired by his own days as an American in the French capitol -- Wolff was born there and returned later for studies -- he let the piece unfold gradually, building to the magic of the central theme which was played with special feeling by the brass. Given such understanding, Gershwin's music glowed.