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Marek Zebrowski delivers insightful, uplifting recital





Works by Haydn, Prokofiev,

and Schumann.

Friday, April 7, Kresge Auditorium.

Part of the Affiliated Artist Series.


MAREK ZEBROWSKI GAVE of his best. As always, Zebrowski combined arching lyricism and superb dynamic control -- the result, a recital of special poignancy, transported an intimate Kresge audience to faraway places. Haydn, Prokofiev, and Schumann comprised the program, a combination which devotees of Zebrowski's playing will remember from his 1985 recital. A master of inner voicings and triple pianissimos, Zebrowski carefully spun together the gossamer fibers of a Haydn sonata, the storybook scenes of Prokofiev incidental music, and the powerful structures of early Schumann variations. The result was a grand recital fully worthy of Zebrowski, at once uplifting, penetrating, and moving.

Opening with the Haydn E Minor Sonata, Hob. XVI/34, Zebrowski immediately demonstrated his proficiency with the classical style. Solid articulation in concert with absolute dynamic control made for a smooth, clean performance. A light touch and absence of extraneous body motion channeled additional expressive power into the music. Of particular distinction were Zebrowski's ornamentations in the opening Presto.

To round out the first half of the program, Zebrowski gave a vivid rendition of (excerpts from) Prokofiev's piano transcription of his ballet music for Romeo and Juliet. Zebrowski himself transcribed three of the sections, a formidable task. The perverse wit of "Mercutio," the innocence of "Juliet as a little girl," and the furious hatred of "The Montagues and the Capulets" all shone through clearly. An introduction and two dance sections, though slightly less imagistic, were none the less played with abundant flair.

Zebrowski closed the concert with Schumann's immense 'Etudes en forme de Variations, Op. 13. Based on an 1852 reworking of the Symphonic 'Etudes, this performance also included three of five posthumously published variations dating from that year. The first of these was inserted second; the other two appeared third and fourth from the end. Zebrowski played here with passion and precision, at times bursting forth in veritable tidal waves of sound. A beautifully tranquil middle etude received particular attention, and the result was wondrous.

Zebrowski's unfortunate tendency to overpedal in the already murky Kresge Auditorium denied the audience most of the passages in the piano's lower three octaves, but as Schumann generally eschews these ranges, any effect was minimal.