Marc Raubenheimer was proclaimed winner of the Seventh International Paloma O'Shea Piano Competition last year in Spain--old news. He was scheduled to perform five finger-busting works last night in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater--again old news. Oddly, surprises flourished: There was hardly an audience for the highly acclaimed artist, and they were witness to a much-revised program of four works.
The two survivors from the original program, Haydn's Sonata in C Minor and "El Albai'cin" (from "Iberia") by Albe'niz, received motley, uninspired performances. Raubenheimer seemed to be playing for himself rather than the audience. His adherence to the written form made one wish that he would inject more of himself into the performance.
Only in the last selection, Dutilleux's Sonata, a work that utilizes the whole keyboard, did Raubenheimer come to grips with the artistic greatness with which he flirts.
Intriguing, complex, full of bewitching experiments in harmonic combinations, Raubenheimer's performance confirmed his reputation. The work had an effect not unlike gravity and centrifugal force, pulling apart at its core, yet retaining its shape. The last movement, Choral et variations, was reminiscent of a boogie-woogie beat on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
The South African pianist's rendition of Schumann's Concerto without Orchestra was expressive and sometimes breathtaking.