Ana Maria Vera is sweet 16, and forever being kissed. But the muses, that is. In the opening concert of the June piano series at the National Galery Sunday night, Vera displayed a youthful mixture of exuberance and inspiration in works of Scarlatti, Liszt, Bartok and Ravel. While not the least exciting thing about her concert was how well it auguered for her musical future, hers was a winning performance for any age.
Bartok's Suite, Op. 14, was remarkable from its first phrases, where Vera took the ritards in the score with touches of rubato that bordered on grand larceny. Her beat then became playfully stiff, and her touch a tad monochromatic for this work whose humor must come from just such a stright-faced approach.
Ravel's colorful impressionism then offered a striking contrast to Bartok's black-and-white score. A hint of impatience in the Albordad del Gracioso" gave it a personal and no less convincing touch. Elsewhere, the technical demands of the music were met with varying degrees of success, though Vera's touch was never less than lovely.
The series continues at the East Garden Court next Sunday with pianist Janice Weber in a rare complete performance of "Goyescas" by Granados.