It was clear from pianist Cecile Licad's first concerts here, which were only last season, that she had fabulous gifts--strength, speed and accuracy in particular. And before the season was out she had made a tremendous impression all over the music world.
Last night she returned here, to confirm the earlier impression in a recital at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Her musical gifts have not yet always caught up with her technical ones, but when it all came together, as in last night's headlong encore performance of Chopin's "Revolutionary" Etude, the results were breathtaking. One doubts there is another pianist who could articulate the dizzying runs in the bass more clearly.
In Schumann's "Carnaval," which closed the printed program, the bravura passages, like the March Against the Philistines that comes at the end, were electric.
Licad is the third major young pianist to program "Carnaval" here in recent weeks; the others were Andre'-Michel Schub and Santiago Rodriguez. So far as sheer panache is concerned, Licad, who is only 22, blanketed the others.
But in "Carnaval," the interpretive challenges are as mighty as the technical ones. In its reflective lyric moments, Licad has not yet developed the maturity of phrasing of the others, especially Schub.
Likewise, in Licad's Chopin, she seemed more comfortable in the heroic scale of the B-flat scherzo than in the more inward G-minor Ballade, which was relentless and matter of fact.
The same was even more true of the Beethoven sonata, Op. 10, No. 3, that opened the evening. This is one of those glowing works in which Beethoven makes lyricism and propulsiveness live happily together. Last night, in Licad's rush, lyricism lost.