Pianist Emily Corbato' played Schumann's Romanze, Op. 28, No. 2, like a dream last night. She had control over every note of this lyrical, haunting piece. The lovely melody sang out and made a direct hit on the heart.
It was a peak not to be reattained during Corbato''s ambitious recital in the National Gallery's East Garden Court--a polyglot program spanning from Haydn to Ernest Bloch.
While Corbato''s grasp of the musical whole was unshakeable in every piece she played, her hold on troublesome details was not always so reliable. Hers was a pedal-heavy, broad-brush approach not generally rewarded by the hall's muddy acoustics.
Indeed, any pianist who plays there is working under duress because it's well-nigh impossible to project the music cleanly. In Bloch's "Poems of the Sea," with myriad tonal colors smashing together and washing over one another, the pedal presented no problem. But in a piece as precise as Haydn's Sonata in C, No. 46--which suffered here and there from sticky fingers--the effect was jarring.
More successful were Oscar Lorenzo Fernandez's majestic Sonata Breve, a 1947 work of rousing dissonance, and Enrique Granados' schmaltzy takeoff on popular Spanish tunes. Corbato' played the latter with a sense of fire and fun.