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Style and personality set Zebrowski's work apart

Marek Zebrowski
Kresge Theater.
March 15.
By Allen N. Jackson
Arts Staff

The two most important musical events of recent weeks were the BSO's Symphony Hall performance of Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings" and pianist Marek Zebrowski's recital at Kresge on Sunday evening.

Marek Zebrowski was challenged with the task of beguiling a musically astute audience and he met that challenge brilliantly. His performance was of such a high caliber that he deserves to be ranked with the astounding Krystian Zimerman.

Style distinguished Zebrowski. Although one can listen to Zimerman or Horowitz and be impressed with the musically technical aspects of their performance, it is the style and personality which distinguish a true musician. And Zebrowski waxed eloquent in his recital.

It was clear after only a few bars of Mozart's Adagio in B minor, KV 540, that the audience was listening to a natural talent. Marek Zebrowski is no mere stunning virtuoso but a significantly individual musical entity. His very silence spoke volumes; every gesture smote the mind with its genuine grace and passion. And for all his technique, Zebrowski reiterated the new aesthetic in classical appreciation. He performed with an unfettered style, oblivious of the American Old World-New World schizophrenia which seems to stalk all major concerts save performances by the New York and Chicago Philharmonics.

His playing was lascivious and expansive, growing in vision and breadth of mind with each composer. Opportunities for applause-seeking or satisfaction of the ego were not abused. Yet he managed to flood the auditorium with dynamic strength, nearly loving the piano bar by bar -- it was musical pornography!

Zebrowski chose an illuminating sundry of composers and pieces from a wide range. The concert included Mozart's Adagio in B-minor and his Rondo in D-Major. Child prodigy Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy's most popular piano variation, Variations Serieuses and Frederic Chopin's thematically supportive Nocturne in E-major and Grande Valse Brillante were sublime. Maurice Ravel and Rachmaninoff rounded out the concert with Miroires and Etudes-Tableaux, respectively.

Zebrowski was sensitive enough to execute the distinctive elements which differentiate the Classical Viennese style of Mozart from the Impressionistic style of Ravel, for example. Though Zebrowski's performance defies easy description, suffice it to his pianistic acumen was fresh with artistic individuality, something I find thoroughly attractive in piano music. If the Affiliated Artist Series continues to associate itself with such stimulating naturalness, I enjoin you to investigate its upcoming concerts.