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Stoering - adventurous contemporary programming

Temperament, energy and a uniformity of expression were characteristic of Donna Stoering's Boston debut performance at the Longy School of Music. The program, postponed because of Hurricane Gloria, consisted of mostly twentieth century piano works.

Stoering started her musical career at the age of five, and has received awards in numerous competitions including two US national competitions. She recently completed a tour of the midwest, played in the new Concord Pavillion in California and has appeared thrughout New Hampshire.

Three Sketches for Piano (1983) by Masayuki Nagatomi and Death Angel (Metamorphosis) (1983) by John Anthony Lennon were heard for the first time in Boston during this performance.

Nagatomi's pieces -- "Air," "Fire" and "Water and Earth" -- were thematic, as their names suggest. Stoering explained that, in the impressionistic tradition, the composer has tried to create a unified experience, to bring these phenomena to the immediate attention of all the senses. As is often the case with contemporary music, the sounds did not reach one's senses directly: One had to first process the music through the intellect.

Stoering said the music in Death Angel was meant to present death and all the stages to be gone through in facing it -- struggle, apathy, acceptance -- as a change, with a positive resolution.

In keeping with the rest of her playing, Stoering emphasized rhythmic irregularities and dynamic range, with most attention paid to fast, forte passages. The themes were often hard to find, and the piece should be heard more than once to be appreciated.

The program also included three rarely-heard pieces by Debussy. With each of them one saw another face of Debussy. Stoering's playing beautifully accented Debussy's unsurpassed talent for painting impressionistic musical paintings -- as in Relfets Dans L'Eau, his musical story-telling -- as in Masques, which describes a play of masks, and his romanticism -- as in Valse Romantique, a romantic experiment within the confines of a waltz.

Chopin's Nocturnes in B flat minor and D flat, Op. 9 no. 1 and Op. 27 no. 2 respectively, and the Waltz in A minor, Op. posth., evoked mixed reactions.

Gottlieb felt Stoering's performance did not add much to the music. The overdone left-hand rhythm of the waltz obscured the harmonies and made for static music. But Stanger thought the waltz was played with the strong rhythmic and harmonic formula required of a Chopin waltz.

Stoering played two Scarlatti Sonatas in E major, 1. 373 and 1. 10, in celebration of the composer's 300th birthday.

These sonatas sounded a bit too much like the modern pieces on the program. All through the sonatas one heard rather incongrous overtones of 19th and 20th century romanticism. Where the music should have been crisp and controlled, there was too much pedal and dynamic fluctuation. But Stoering's technical confidence in these pieces was excellent.

Stoering was at her best with Granados' Three Dances op. 37, which ended the afternoon. These simple and captivating pieces gave her ample opportunity to express vivacity and a sense for color and rhythm.

The dances were inspired from Spanish folk tunes. They were laden with the imagery of a Goya painting. The most enjoyable of the set was the dance Stoering chose to play as an encore -- Villa Nueva, which Stoering aptly described it as a "Spanish mantra." Its short motif never left the music and one never tired of hearing it.

Stoering's strength in contemporary music could not be denied and overall she gave the impression of a dynamic, serious and capable musician.

Jacqueline Gottlieb->

Ben Stanger->