Thomas Peyton Pandolfi, a 16-year-old honor student at Georgetown Preparatory School, gave a recital Saturday afternoon at Anderson House that showed why he has been winning so many local piano competitions in the last year or two.
When the music is exciting, so is Pandolfi. He gave a beautifully articulated, lyrically phrased performance of Chopin's "Fantasie-Impromptu," making the piano sing gracefully and conveying with real power and subtlety the music's shifting emotions. In Liszt's "Mephisto" Waltz No. 1, he raged and thundered impressively in the loud, fast and brilliant passages, while the quieter sections were used effectively for contrast. In both of these works, he showed a fine sense of agogic accent--the art of tinkering subtly with the music's pulse for expressive effect--and a superb control of dynamic nuance.
Elsewhere--in Beethoven's "Appassionata," for example, or Chopin's Nocturn No. 4 in F--he showed the results of careful training in music that he may later master more thoroughly. It was a very good performance for a 16-year-old and pretty good on any terms, but Pandolfi does not yet say all that can be said in this music. A Scarlatti sonata opened the program and was used effectively for warming-up purposes (though his left hand did not reach the full parity with the right until a few measures into the Beethoven), and Chopin's Ballade No. 2 in F seemed still incompletely mastered--very impressive in brilliant passages but not yet fully formed at less feverish moments. Pandolfi is not yet a complete artist, but he has impressive technique and sound musical instincts. Clearly, he will bear watching.