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Anxiety, verve mark Perrone's ebullient performance

MIT Affiliated Artist Series

Eleanor Perrone, piano.

Works by Bach, Shapero, Chopin, Schubert.

Killian Hall; March 14, 8:00 p.m.

By Craig K. Chang
Staff Reporter

Eleanor Perrone plays the piano with a quirky sort of verve. Perhaps it is the way she attacks difficult passages, or merely the way she anxiously inflects all of her phrases. Her Bach tends to speak its need to break out of any presumptions about steadiness or grace. It is playing full of hurdles, some not always necessary. Consuming dense and dirty passages with such aplomb, Perrone unfortunately makes me wish she were a more complete pianist.

On stage, Perrone capitalized on this capacity to face up to technical and dramatic demons. Kinetic drive feels most at home with bold, contemporary pieces. Likewise, Perrone exhibited her strengths best with Harold Shapero's Sonata No. 2. In this realm, her big technique tackled neo-classical ferocity unharmed.

Chopin's Scherzo in C Sharp Minor is a daring and unexpected roller coaster through madness, though its palette is by no means limited to impetuousness. Even though Tuesday night's restless pianist laced her falling arpeggios with shimmering beauty, she also let her enthusiasm run away with herself in the spaces between phrases - the most difficult areas to handle.

Perrone's excitement lent her playing so much energy, making incidents of every phrase. And still, a strain of impatience seemed to drown her performance of Schubert's Sonata in A, D. 959, a piece that thrives on incidental development. Overwhelmed by the over-exalted opening of the first movement and the bat-out-of-hell pace of the third movement's Scherzo, I wished for delicacy and poetry, natural melody that seizes the imagination. I waited for Schubert's landscape to express itself.

Instead, we experienced ground swells about to burst - both impatience and unbridled energy. At the concert's end, I remembered how Perrone created a perfect frenzy in the coda of the Chopin Scherzo, literally taken as fast as possible. And then I wished she would approach the totality of her music with the same brash, technical confidence.