Andre-Michel Schub is no stranger to the Washington audience, and his virtuosity and musicianship sparkled again at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater last night.
He opened with Beethoven's A-flat Sonata (Op. 26), in which controlled phrasing, exquisite gradations of tone color and sensitive pedaling -- especially in the Funeral March -- made for a truly beautiful performance.
Chopin's Scherzo in C-sharp Minor, which followed, was marked by vigorous playing of the octaves and a rippling waterfall effect in the middle section. Then came two Bartok compositions. The extremely percussive Allegro Barbaro had the requisite sound and thunder. And although "Out of Doors," Op. 81, is not without its percussive moments, there is much variety in the five mood pictures that constitute the work, and Schub painted them all with skill and sensitivity. Particularly evocative was the impressionistic "Night Music."
An elegant performance of two Schubert impromptus was followed by the evening's major work, the "Wanderer" Fantasy. No Schubert piano composition makes heavier demands on a pianist's technique than this work of almost orchestral proportions compressed into a single movement and played without pause. Schub brought out the verve and sparkle of the opening sections, played the Adagio variations with a dreamy loveliness and took the many crescendos, broken octaves and scale runs in stride. It was a tremendous performance by a very fine musician.