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Intimate and warm

Emily Corbat'o, pianist, Kresge Little Theatre, Sunday, March 3.

Emily Corbat'o gave a very enjoyable piano recital on Sunday afternoon. The recital was sponsored by the MIT Women's League as part of their Hosts to International Students Program.

Corbat'o immediately established an intimate rapport with the audience by reading her program notes aloud before each piece was performed, discussing her program with a wit and understanding also characteristic of her performance. Although she demonstrated slight technical instability in the first half of the program, the second half was much smoother.

Corbat'o opened with the Piano Sonata, opus 1 of Roy Harris. She emphasized the American character of the music in her introductory remarks, and it was fairly apparent in her performance as well. A short Prelude led directly into a relatively long, repetitive, and frequently boring Andante Ostinato.

The Scherzo and Coda were more interesting, but I must admit that the Harris was the piece in the program that I liked the least.

Corbat'o's dexterity left a bit to be desired in Beethoven's Tempest Sonata opus 31 no. 2, but she played with great musical awareness. She captured the entire musical idea without losing the direction and cohesion implied in the music. The last movement was particularly satisfying as she didn't repeat the four note motif mechanically, as is done so frequently, but used it to build a complex musical architecture.

After a brief intermission, Corbat'o returned to the piano, this time to perform Haydn's Sonata in B minor, (Hob. XVI:36). This piece was performed to the peak of technical perfection, and never lacked a sense of life and energy.

But Arthur Foote's Suite in D minor opus 15 was the high point of the recital. This suite -- infrequently heard today, (but which will be available on a new recording by Corbat'o, along with the Harris sonata) -- was quite a find. It opens with a short but powerful prelude, followed by a fugue. The fugue is in neo-baroque style, but retains a strong underlying sense of inventiveness.

The Romance was very sweet and melancholy, and the final movement, Capriccio, was lively and brilliant. The audience reacted very enthusiastically. In response, Corbat'o played a lovely Harris ballade as an encore. It was, all in all, a very nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Richard Gotlib->