Andre-Michel Schub commands an astonishing arsenal of pianistic voices. One minute, hard and aggressive attacks, unyielding in their insistence, expose a phrase in harsh outlines. The next, a line appears as if emerging from a bath of comforting harmonies. He seems to prolong the resolution of a cadence by force of his concentration alone and yet rips through runs almost heedlessly, arriving at their ends triumphantly on the beat as if by chance or good luck. Not every decision he makes is a poetic one, but it is wonderful communication.
He was the soloist in an enormously satisfying performance of the C minor Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 37, with the National Chamber Orchestra at the Ellington School Theatre Friday night. Having chosen a larger-than-life approach that initially took some getting used to in the chamber context of the evening, he proceeded to make everyone forget about the imbalance and concentrate on the details he lavished on the music. Conductor Piotra Gajewski was an alert and joyful collaborator.
On its own, the orchestra gave a rhythmically exciting and intelligent reading of Andreas Makris's excellent three-movement tone poem, "Anamnesis." The piece may not have a story line, but it certainly has a setting, rural Greece, and its dances, folk-flavored melodies and energy make it a most attractive piece. The National Chamber Orchestra's strengths -- warmth, flexibility and line, rather than dry precision and virtuousity -- were ideally suited to the music.
The program began with an excerpt from Bernstein's "West Side Story Symphonic Dances," played in memory of the composer, and with Mozart's Overture to "Don Giovanni."