The second evening recital at the University of Maryland International Piano Festival and William Kapell Competition featured pianist John Browning at Tawes Theatre. Monday night's program is one that Browning has used before in Washington with great success, and it seems the combination of miniature and large-scale works continues to be one where the artist's superb gifts can shine.
Haydn's Sonata in F, Hob. XVI:23, with its seamless lyricism, paved the way for two jewels by Schubert: the "Moments Musicaux," D. 780, Nos. 2 and 3. Each note was precisely weighed and overall proportions perfectly balanced.
Chopin's B-flat Minor Sonata, Op. 35, was crisply tailored throughout. The cleanly accented second movement and steady calm of the funeral march, with its serene middle portion, helped make for a beautifully understated reading.
Three works of Debussy were smooth and handsomely polished as Browning demonstrated his fine sense of dynamics and pedaling. The right-hand figures of Liszt's "Les Jeux d'Eau a` la Villa d'Este" glistened without being flashy, just as the "Sonetto 104 del Petrarca" and the Mephisto Waltz No. 1 managed to be romantic and soulful without the usual show of technique.