Grove's Encyclopedia of Music and Musicians describes pianist Annie Fischer's style as "marked by intense spiritual concentration and interior feeling altogether free from showmanship." That is exactly what was heard from the Hungarian artist in last night's concert at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.
Fischer, who is visiting this country for the first time in a decade, has single-minded concentration on the lyric line of a work, making all the other elements -- the inner voices, countermelodies, the tonal gradations -- fall in place with great clarity.
There is a tendency among the powerhouse virtuosos to push one or another element out of balance in the more reflective repertory, which is what Fischer played.
Fisher, instead, starts quietly; even her fortes are subdued by comparison with those of most pianists. By reining in the sound, she can use her energies more directly to shade her exquisite nuances. And her notion of tempo and phrasing is to be straightforward rather than tricky.
This made possible particular eloquence in a work like the serene and exalted variations that closes the Beethoven Op. 109 Sonata. The sections unfolded, as they should, more like juxtaposed but enormously varied versions of the same concept.
That intimate approach was just right also for the four Schubert Impromptus, Op. 142. In the Schumann Fantasia the bravura passages suffered particularly from raggedness; the quiet ending was lovely.