Gyorgy Sandor opened Maryland University's Piano Festival Recital Series last night with an uncommon event, an all-Bartok centennial, the concert included the most famous of the solo works, the sonata and the Allegro Barbaro, and a miscellany of dances and folk song arrangements.
While Bartok's fame as a collector of folk music rests solidly on much of this music, his fame as a composer who enjoys a wide public is due more to the great orchestral and chamber works.
There is little in this music that is endearing and much that becomes repetitive when heard all at one time. But the music is singularly representative both of a period in which driving rhythms were a fundamental fact of life and of a composer who made a unique contirbution to the literature of the piano.
Sandor has spent a lifetime of study and performance with this music and plays it with an authority in touch and style that is unique. He has the reiterated motor figures under firm control and sends the shooting outbursts to the top and bottom of the keyboard with astounding accuracy. He uses a fascinating variety of finger attacks, often playing key melodies with downward thrusts of stiffened fingers. Nothing in the concert was more effective than his performance of the Dance Suite in Bartok's own revision of the music written originally for orchestra, of which Sandor gave the world premiere in 1945, the year of the composer's death.