A young pianist named Roman Rudnytsky played a fine recital last night at the National Gallery, showing a particular flair for drawing sumptuous sonorities from the keyboard.
And since the first half of the concert was all Debussy, the East Garden Court was simply awash with streams of sound--glissandos galore--and spectacular pyrotechnics. The latter was almost literally the case in the last of the Book II Preludes he played, "Feu d'artifice" ("Fireworks"). Seldom have more glittering notes been crowded into so short a time. And the performance soared off like a rocket.
Beginning the Debussy half was the more classical Suite Bergamasque, a series of impressionist embellishments on classical forms--a prelude, a menuet and a passepied. Also, it includes the most famous impressionist piano piece, the "Clair de lune." The latter, when it isn't being Muzaked to death, is an exquisite, chaste exercise in intervals and chords. Making it all fit together requires the most split-second pedaling, which is what it got last night.
Rudnytsky drew effects similar to "Fireworks" from the other five preludes. He produced an unfailingly resonant sound, with splendid control of dynamics.
His one departure from lush sonorities was the Mozart K. 282 Sonata in E-flat. The opening adagio was intense and maybe a little slow. The performance had real feeling but would have benefited from more elegance of phrase.
He concluded the regular program with an old and seldom-played potboiler, a series of "Variations de Bravoure" that several composers--including Liszt and Chopin--wrote in 1837 on the theme of the march from Bellini's "I Puritani." None is of any great distinction. I knew that Liszt could waste his time with such trifles, but I didn't think Chopin was capable of writing anything that didn't reflect, at least in part, his exquisite sensibilities. But here he did. It ought to be burned.
The only likely reason for Rudnytsky to play this was to prove that he could handle huge gobs of notes at high speeds, and that was abundantly clear from the Debussy.
The first encore, Grieg's Nocturne, showed romantic lyric flair. And the second, Rachmaninoff's finger-busting transcription of the prelude from Bach's E-flat partita, ended the concert with showers of still-different kinds of flowing sonorities.