The term "rising star" is overused and conveniently nebulous. When applied to a pianist the caliber of Lydia Artymiw, however, this designation regains its luster, for she already enjoys an international reputation as a performing and recording artist. Last night at the Renwick Gallery, her program of Brahms, Schumann, Debussy and Chopin proved that she is a most thoughtful and serious musician, one who has definite opinions about interpretation and boldly presents them to the audience.
Artymiw has a special gift for the Romantics, and her reading of Schumann's Sonata No. 2 in G minor was a joy, particularly in the concluding rondo. Four Chopin mazurkas, instead of reveling in rubato, achieved distinction through sharp-edged phrasing with the right hand. The composer's "Polonaise-Fantaisie," begun hurriedly, regained its composure as Artymiw outlined the contrasts, wresting the work from any sort of pie-eyed dream state.
For Debussy's "Images" (Book 2), she softened the piano's percussive element, so that the "bells across the leaves" tolled clearly in the first section and the moon descended smoothly in the second section's "temple that was." Liberal use of the pedal, a prominent attribute in Artymiw's playing, and a crisp attack in the "Goldfish" section ended the work in splendid, exhilarating fashion.