Jerome Rose's piano recital at the Phillips Collection yesterday was an odd mixture of touching sensitivity, brutal violence and devastating lapses of concentration.
With the opening statement of the Mozart C Major Sonata, K. 330, a work of delicacy, elegant proportions and passion, he proclaimed himself an artist, a listener who strove for lyricism and gentleness. The lovely second movement strengthened this impression; it found him coaxing, rather than commanding, sonorities from his instrument. His musical ideas were expressed clearly and the performance made one wish he had taken all the repeats. The last movement was light if not joyful.
But after a nicely balanced beginning to the marvelous Beethoven A-flat Major Sonata, Op. 110, things began to fall apart. There was a memory lapse and, perhaps, loss of confidence. From that point on, the music had only surface appeal. The artistry that had characterized the Mozart so effectively was missing. More concentration problems in the second movement led to passages that got simply louder and louder. The fugue did not crescendo so much as lose its temper.
The program featured the local premiere of Michael Jeffrey Shapiro's second piano sonata, a short (six minutes) work in a neo-expressionistic idiom. Shapiro has a nice feeling for piano sonorities and a good sense of proportion. He stopped when he was through, something that a lot of young composers are not smart enough to do.
The concert ended with crashing performances of three of Liszt's "Transcendental Etudes."