This summer's piano series at the National Gallery of Art opened Sunday night with Darrin Blumfield making his Washington recital debut. Son of pianist Coleman Blumfield, who will perform later this week with the National Symphony Orchestra, the young artist gave strong readings of the demanding works.
Busoni's magnificent transcription of Bach's Organ Toccata in C, particularly demanding for a concert opener, was played with clarity in the prelude and a weighty, smooth legato line in the intermezzo. Even though it was well articulated, however, the closing fugue seemed studied and less secure than the previous movements.
Mendelssohn's "Variations se'rieuses," Op. 54, allowed for a fine technical display and tidy sense of style. This, one of the composer's best works, stretches any pianist's interpretive skills, and Blumfield demonstrated maturity and poise.
The first movement of Rachmaninoff's B-flat Minor Sonata was filled with a brisk urgency, and the second movement contained a lovely lyricism. The work's strong character was deftly handled.
Closing with Chopin's B-flat Minor Sonata, Blumfield created the appropriate agitated pace in the first movement and scherzo, although the chromatic runs in the return section got away from him. Mostly the work showed a reflective, musical spirit. -- Kate Rivers