Barbro Dahlman, who presented a demanding and unusual program of Scandinavian piano music yesterday afternoon at the World Bank Auditorium, has the kind of aggressive piano style that brings out the best in the flamboyant contemporary works she so obviously relishes. She certainly made the most of Ulf Grahn's "For Piano," the minimalist exercise she chose to begin her recital. Dahlman convincingly used the energy generated by the octave tremolo that dominated the brief piece to spin out brilliant ostinato passage work, and the effect was exhilarating.
Her performance of Einojuhani Rautavaara's Piano Sonata No. 2, "The Fire Sermon," was equally effective, if a bit shaggy. Rautavaara is a full-blooded Romantic who uses cluster writing and other trappings of avant-garde pianism for rhetorical effects. His sonata vacillates back and forth between motoristic Barto'k-like percussiveness and a grand-gestured, heroic style. Dahlman unified all this in her expressive performance.
The more lyrical works on the program came off a bit less well. Of the six lyric pieces by Grieg, chosen from Opuses 43 and 71, the more dramatic pieces were best. Delicate works like "To Spring" and "The Butterfly" suffered from a somewhat colorless and workmanlike approach. The same was true of the selections from Stenhammer's wonderful "Late Summer Evenings."