Though the world is currently filled with excellent pianists, few seem to have the colorful individuality that characterized some of the earlier giants. Yefim Bronfman, as he demonstrated in his recital at the Jewish Community Center Saturday evening, possesses a fiery temperament that links him to the more grand scale of previous decades. His fearless and dramatic way with his instrument brings to mind stories of the young Artur Rubinstein.
Only in his mid twenties, this Russian-born Israeli artist is clearly intoxicated with the piano's sound. His strong fingers reach deeply into the keyboard to produce a big, resonant tone, which was particularly evident in Mussorgsky's thundering showpiece, "Pictures at an Exhibition." Above all, he is willing to take risks in pursuit of his vision. He does not always succeed -- minor slips cropped up here and there during the evening -- but the dimension of his concept more than compensates.
At times his playing edges toward the extreme. When sharp contrasts of mood, texture and dynamics were allied to a clear, formal sense, as in the opening "32 Variations on an Original Theme" by Beethoven, the results were immensely satisfying. When, however, Bronfman's love of high drama interfered with the musical flow, as in his performance of Schubert's D-Major Sonata, Op. 53, then the need for more balance and less excitement became obvious. The concert will be re-broadcast on WGMS Dec. 10 at 9 p.m.