The concert was almost kept a secret, but the lucky few who went to the Terrace Theatre yesterday afternoon heard one of the most beautiful concerts of the season. With strength, intelligence and obvious love of music, pianist Frances Walker gave a gorgeous program of shamefully neglected American music as well as works of Weber, Liszt and Dohnanyi.
There was restraint in Charles Griffes' impressionistic "Fountain of the Acqua Paola," as Walker's hands danced gently on the keyboard. And there was stamina and awesome power in Griffes' demanding Sonata, a tour de force in one movement which brought the concert to a rousing finale. The sonata's harmonics and ferocious thrust recall the work of Scriabin, intellectually challenging yet immediately accessible. Walker's playing was impeccable, pensive yet never weak, always captivating.
A pioneer of the work of black American composers, Walker included George Walker's too short "Variations on an Old Kentucky Folk Song," a touching paean to the land, and an ecstatically romantic waltz by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
For Weber's Sonate in A-flat, Walker's approach was rustic yet deliberate and delicate in the rondo finale. In Liszt's "Funerailles" her hands caressed the keyboard to the constant beat of a heavy heart, making the heroic development all the more striking. The playful virtuosity of Dohnanyi's Capriccio in F Minor completed the symphony of moods that made this concert a truly varied feast of music.