Austrian pianist Walter Klien, topping off a week of evening recitals at the University of Maryland's International Piano Festival, offered a glimpse of a master in peak form. His artistry has been well documented over the years through recordings, and his appearance last night enhanced the notion of Klien as a leading figure of his generation.
Klien opened with Mozart's D Major Sonata, K. 284, an early work that stands apart from its companion pieces by virtue of its complexity and scale. Klien seemed completely at home with the music, offering wonderful textural clarity. The second movement was noteworthy for its subtle phrasing, and the third movement's variations were inspired for their dynamics and delicate colorations.
From early Mozart, Klien moved effortlessly to the mature Brahms "Fantasien," Op. 116, exercising the same technical command found in the sonata. He splendidly portrayed the combination of fierce, sometimes heady energy and seasoned powers of reflection that Brahms instilled in his late piano music. As familiar as these capriccios and intermezzos are, Klien's playing was revelatory in his choice of tempos, accents and voicing. The first intermezzo from Op. 117, given as an encore, handsomely summarized the purity of Klien's Brahms interpretations.
Schubert's majestic Sonata in A Major, D. 959, showed a tremendous grasp of the work's architecture in a reading that brought out both the piece's bravura and tender sentiment.