Pianist Marc-Andre' Hamelin played a handsome program Saturday night before a full hall at the National Academy of Sciences. The young artist, a native of Canada, combined well-known (but not overplayed) works that showed his musicality to advantage.
Opening with Mozart's B-flat Major Sonata, K.570, Hamelin phrased the movements with sensitivity and exercised great control over dynamics. The sonata is not especially difficult technically, but there is ample room for lofty interpretation. Hamelin approached it admirably.
Schumann's "Waldscenen," Op. 82, also offered much in the way of poetic insight, as the character of each piece was carefully evoked. A relaxed hand and unobtrusive pedaling afforded the charming suite a rich tone and elegant sound.
With Liszt's Concert Etude No. 2 ("La Leggierezza") Hamelin wisely avoided a glittery show. Instead he delicately provided rippling chromatic scales and flowing accompaniment.
Rachmaninoff's grand B-flat minor Sonata could have stood more emphasis on the first and final movements' rhythmic pull, and the central lento section's broad lines might have been stronger. Yet the crashing chords showed convincing muscularity.
The witty and appealing Suite No. 6 by Canadian pianist-composer Sophia-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatte combined subtle coloristic effects and complex problems of execution, all of which came off smoothly and with flash.