The young American pianist Frederick Moyer chose an imaginative and well-planned program for his Washington debut at the Phillips Collection yesterday afternoon. In the most intellectually demanding work on the program, Brahms' Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, his tempos were occasionally slower than one might expect, but this only served to emphasize his clear understanding of the work's motivic complexity. His attention to the need for continuity throughout the cycle lapsed only in an excessive ritard at the end of Variation 25.
In the Beethoven Sonata, Op. 26, the work as a whole was brought nicely into focus despite a few exaggerated accents and an unclear articulation in brief coda of the finale. The opening variation movement demonstrated Moyer's sensitivity to textural concerns as well as his control of tone and phrasing. But the Rachmaninoff group truly showed the extent of his pianistic ability. The group was properly varied--two Preludes, the first brilliant and powerful, the second impassioned and introspective, followed by a rhythmically driven Etude-Tableau. Moyer's power and technique were under constant control and the sincerely felt emotion in the second Prelude was, in many ways, the highlight of the afternoon. A final Rachmaninoff Prelude of lyric simplicity was a fitting encore to a first-rate recital.