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Ax's romance with lyricism shines through in Brahms

EMANUEL AX

Piano recital,

Works of Beethoven, Schoenberg,

Liszt and Brahms.

Symphony Hall, May 5

Presented by the Wang Celebrity Series.

Event in The Tech Performing Arts Series.

By JONATHAN RICHMOND

EMANUEL AX likes the Steinway because of its predisposition to sing. His romance with lyricism came freshly through in his performance of Brahms' Sonata No. 3 in F, the great success of his Symphony Hall recital last Friday.

The second movement was the most overwhelming: Ax's fingers coasted across the keyboard, creating a transfixing legato with a gossamer touch. The approach was delicate in a refined way, but there was no lack of sensuality. Contrasts were drawn with much imagination.

The concerto began with much heroic bravura; the concluding movement was intensely performed and highly animated, its ending celebrated in a display of rich coloration.

The first work on the concert had been Beethoven's Sonata No. 15 in D, Op. 28, "Pastorale," and Ax also performed this music with an appreciation for the inner beauty of the work. His approach here, however, was over-romanticized, and the result was on the slushy side. Many notes were buried in his tone; they should have been more sharply defined. There was a brief passage in the final movement, nonetheless, where Ax's dark playing made the music quite larger than life.

Ax brought out the complexities of Schoenberg's Six Little Pieces, Op. 19, and found poetry in Liszt's Tre Sonetti del Petrarca from Ann'ees de P'elerinage. Deuxi`eme Ann'ee: Italie, Nos. 47, 104 & 123. Ax's special way with softer passages was particularly illuminating here.

Listz's Concert Paraphrase on Verdi's Rigoletto was done nicely and with good humor; it would, however, have benefited from a more lively performance. A Chopin Mazurka, given as an encore, worked particularly well.