Brazilian pianist Francisco Renno put together a program late yesterday afternoon that on paper was practically perfect. To begin there was one of the most exultant of the Mozart sonatas. Then there was the Op. 101 Beethoven sonata, one of those emotionally ambivalent products of his last years, when his deafness had become total, in which he fluctuates between ardent lyricism and sublime moments of virtual suspension in time, until a series of trills -- Lord, that man loved trills -- leads to an extended fugue of the most determined sort. Renno capped this off with the B-minor Chopin sonata, his last, a work in which the extent of its lyricism is never in doubt; it overwhelms you.
All of this is very heady stuff, and Renno dived in and didn't flinch. He is an exciting young talent. Now 30, he won Washington's Friday Morning Music Club International Competition last year. His best moments yesterday came when the music was the most direct and extroverted, especially in the elegantly pointed last movement of the Mozart. What separates him from a Schnabel in the Beethoven or a Rubinstein in the Chopin is his smaller range of sonority and that extra intensity of concentration that would make both of those men take your breath away in these works. His technique is solid, his tonal and dynamic control is impressive and his natural instincts seem reliable
Just to take on such a program is bold, and he brought it off just fine.