Piano recitals featuring only music from the overplayed core of the Germanic repertory often become as dull in performance as they bode on paper. Unless, of course, the pianist is Richard Goode, who brought consistently arresting beauty to just such a solo program Thursday evening at the Terrace Theater.
Unlike many of today's better-known pianists (including several able to fill the Kennedy Center's much larger Concert Hall) who approach this often-heard kind of music as self-indulgent, self-proclaimed prophets or certified public accountants, Goode seems motivated only by his burning musical intelligence and his desire to get to the heart of each score on its own terms. All three important works on his program -- Beethoven's Op. 27, No. 1, Schubert's D. 845 and Schumann's "Davidsbuendlertaenze" -- felt inevitably right in these readings.
In the Schubert -- a magnificent performance -- Goode's uncanny ability to incorporate studied decisions into a breathing, palpitating musical fabric showed to great advantage: The mystery of the first movement gripped listeners with its relentless anxiety, and the ensuing variations brought visions of clear, running streams, all in the most natural, coherent pacing. And while Goode's particular pianistic refinement may be best appreciated in an intimate space like the Terrace, one only wished he had had a better instrument through which to work his magic than the brash, dysfunctional Steinway available that night.