On paper Valerie Tryon's selection of 19th-century blockbusters looked like the program that would set the International Piano Festival on fire. Last night at the University ofMaryland the reality proved closer to a gentle glow.
Tryon's art is one of proportion and taste, deriving its strength from under-statement. Her extensive technical resources are used with enormous restraint in a style which, clearly by choice, avoids both brilliance and flayboyance. She possesses vituosic control, particularly over the lower endof the dynamic scale. Her ability to play passages of intricate finger work with lightness and rapidity is magical. She never strains -- even the most fiendish sections seem simple in her hands.
Despite these many obvious virtues, all apparent in Tryon's performance yesterday evening, this listener found herself subject to intermittent bouts of of extreme restlessness. Too often Tryon seemed to have her mind and heart elsewhere. Indeed, they clearly had slipped off during one of the the List Concert Etudes when Tryon suddenly found herself wandering, stopped and with a shamefaced look and apology to the audience got back on track.
Perhaps Tryon was simply having a bad night. She came through often enough as a sensitive and responsive artist to make one suspect that she could project with greater depth on another occasion. She did manage exquisite moments. The evenness of her left-hand accompainment against the fluid right-hand melody in a Chopin Berceuse was a paarticular joy. She turned the Rachmaninoff transcription of Mendelssohn's "A Mid-summer Night's Dream" Scherzo into a piece of shimmering grace.