February 8, 2009

Piano Recitals

Attended a piano recital at Kennedy Center yesterday and was shocked to realize that there's only one performance left on this year's subscription. None of the pianists so far this year have made a favorable impression on me, though some have left an urge to get reacquainted with pieces on the program--Pictures at an Exhibition, Scriabin Mazurkas, and—yesterday—one of Bach's French Suites. I have to admit that the inability to remember performances might be just a sign of my problems with memory, but I think the quality of performances has been slipping since Evelyn Hayes has been gone. This year and last Neale Perle has taken to introducing the performers on stage, and he listed a string of accomplishments that—along with a comfortable program—promised an afternoon of great listening. But the performance by Simone Dinnerstein left me unmoved. She started with four Schubert Impromptus, familiar pieces; and I have never heard them played quite her way before. In these pieces and throughout the program she seemed to apply ritards that are not called for, and in the Schubert she noticeably used staccatos that I have heard in no other performance. For me, it seemed like she was restraining the music and refusing to let it breathe. Instead of letting the music expand and grow, she just smothered it.