No one will ever accuse David Golub of being bland. A performer can be forgiven a bit of interpretive tinkering when playing familiar music, and such a pardon is forthcoming for Golub. In his Terrace Theater debut Saturday afternoon, the pianist played works of Liszt, Chopin, Franck and Schubert in a manner that was seldom distinguished, always distinctive and never dull.
Liszt's "Mephisto Waltz" was taken at a slower speed than memory cares to compare. It was an awesome interpretation, with rubatos that bordered on grand larceny and a middle section that actually brought out the waltz's perverse relation to Chopin more than to the devil. Zealously hiding the delicacies of the score with a remarkably strong touch, Golub came close to banging the hell out of this satanic score.
Two Chopin nocturnes were played for all their forshadowings of impressionistic coolness, making the anger of the C Minor (Op. 48, No. 2) all the more surprising. Franck's Prelude, Chorale and Fugue was given a sensitive, passionate reading. Only Schubert's monumental Sonata in B-flat Major, which took up the first half of the concert, proved much too heavy-handed. Clumsy pedal release, messy left-hand trills and a deliberate touch of vulgarity where the score demanded delicacy made the piece the least effective offering of the afternoon. The pianist was not helped by a herd of late-comers allowed inside during the second movement, or in the third, by the antiphony of snores that resounded in the excellent Terrace acoustics.