Pianist Arthur Greene's appearance Sunday at the Phillips Collection was part of his first prize at the 1986 University of Maryland's William Kapell Competition.
His all-Schumann recital showed numerous strong features, and he should be commended for an unusual twist of programming, unearthing a seldom-heard large-scale composition.
Greene opened with the charming "Arabesque," Op. 18, a tender little sketch with just enough room for some tempered romanticism.
The pianist offered hints of rubato without going overboard, and he shaded the work with a refined sense of color.
With most of the cobwebs brushed off the neglected Grand Sonata No. 3 in F minor, published as a "Concerto Without Words," Greene admirably tackled the loose form of the outer movements.
Occasionally he got bogged down in the dense textures, but his playing was not without a springy tone, especially in the prestissimo finale. The second movement variations, based on a theme of Schumann's beloved wife Clara, could have stood a more forceful definition of tempos and melodic line.
What the sonata might lack in vivid character and descriptive sentiment, "Carnaval," Op. 9, has in sparkling abundance.
Greene proved an agile interpreter, alternately giving the music a lovely flow and pointed rhythmic charge.
For the most part, his technique was clean and strong, his tone firm and well proportioned.