The pianist Andrea Padova turns sound into poetry. His virtuosity, sensitively managed, resounds through every measure. And the music he chose for Sunday's recital at the Phillips Collection followed a meaningful line of thought--the colossal legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach.
This year marks the 250th anniversary of the composer's death, which Padova chose to honor with Bach's staggering "Goldberg" Variations and two 20th-century works that would not exist without Bach's music: Mario J. Pelusi's "Invention for Solo Piano: B-A-C-H Recalled," completed last fall, and Goffredo Petrassi's "Toccata" from 1954.
In Padova's hands, the organization of Pelusi's piece, based on the German note equivalents of Bach's name, shone through--a fluctuating dialogue between extended contrapuntal orations and churning rhythmic figures. Yet its harmonies breathed the disjointed spirit of the 1950s and 1960s.
For the Petrassi, Padova lucidly enunciated its fugal design, showing the vibrant lower register of the Phillips Steinway to full advantage.
The "Goldberg" Variations remains the wildest of musical fantasies. Padova's wizardry and articulation gave the music its needed momentum, conveying--aside from a few uncertainties--the sense of successfully exceeding the limits of human possibility.