The 38th American Music Festival continued yesterday at the National Gallery with a sampling of two centuries of our piano music played by Sylvia Glickman.
It is easy to understand why Alexander Reinagle was so popular in the early days of the republic. It was easy to see why from his 1786 Sonata in E Major, which opened Glickman's program. Its classical elegance looks ahead to a more romantic day, and if Glickman's tentative discretion betrayed no intimate relation with the score, hers was a fine reading of a work that deserves being heard.
Less deserving is Norman Dello Joio's Sonata No. 3, a work whose reputation may rest on the infrequency of the performances it receives. Glickman was clearly committed to this complex but unimaginative piece, which possibly worked better as background music to less attentive listeners.
These two were typical of the rest of the program. One understood why some of these American composers are not household words, while also wishing that others from Amy Beach to George Rochberg were afforded larger audiences. Beach's Prelude and Fugue, Op. 81 showed Glickman at her finest. The pianist mirrored the carefully etched emotions of this unassuming jewel. The concert closed with "The Banjo" by Gottschalk.