Perhaps the greatest similarity between Schubert and Liszt is that both were instructed by Salieri, the villain of "Amadeus." Yet their music -- Schubert's with its tunefulness, Liszt's with its daring -- is most compatible, especially when the works are for piano and the pianist is Jorge Bolet. His recital Thursday night at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater was a consummate blend of the Ariel and Mephisto of music. Substance and subjectivity were equal partners, with Bolet's romantic temperament acting as the crucible. Yet his bravura playing contained no superfluous gestures.
In six "Consolations," Bolet touched on Liszt's dreamy, lesser known Chopinesque side. This magical aura carried over into Schubert's "Wanderer" Fantasy, where he curbed its pent-up energy until the last movement -- a masterstroke of pacing.
Bolet practically made one forget the piano is a percussion instrument in four of the six Liszt transcriptions of Schubert lieder, before making his "orchestra with teeth" flash in the Transcendental Etudes No. 8 and No. 11. He bathed "Harmonies du soir" (No. 8) in subdued colors, then took to the wide-open spaces of the entire keyboard with a flurry for "Wilde Jagd" ("Wild Hunt"). Bolet's force visibly shook the piano. The audience responded with riotous applause.