Young Pianist Sparkles In Recital

Posted: March 18, 1998

Traditions thrive in Philadelphia, traditions such as the Academy Morning Musicales, a series created in 1905 by the enterprising members of the West Philadelphia Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Orchestra. At 93, it's still flourishing. Yesterday, a piano recital by Rieko Aizawa brought the 1997-98 series to a close. A capacity crowd demonstrated palpable enthusiasm.

The pianist, a Curtis grad, is 23. She recently made her New York debut and soon heads for the St. Louis Symphony for a concerto.

A glittering Haydn Sonata in D (Hob. XVI) brought a gaiety into the chamber that was altogether appropriate. Aizawa jump-started the opening allegro with an ornament crisp as the snapping of a finger, and as phrases sparkled and rhythms pulsed, it was easy to bask in the composer's congenial intelligence.

The sightlines in the ballroom are not ideal, and I noted more than a few of us watching the slim, intent Aizawa at her keyboard from the mirrored walls. These mirrors set off a reverberation that was not entirely beneficial to Bartok's Suite (Op. 14), giving it tones here and there that were smudgy rather than clear. But the performance itself was poised and punctuated.

Aizawa presented a more compelling case for Schumann's Kreisleriana, a cycle of descriptive miniatures whose emotions are hardly small. The pianist conjured ferocious floods of feeling and the wry eccentricities of Kapellmeister Kreisler, the E.T.A. Hoffmann character who partly inspired this music. Aizawa is quite good at pointing out the middle and lower voices that direct Schumann's oft-rushing music. Even better is the way she pulls out for our attention - and where necessary sustains - leading tones and chords.

As an encore, Aizawa offered a poignant movement from one of Schubert's Moments Musicaux.

RIEKO AIZAWA Piano soloist. Presented by West Philadelphia Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Performed yesterday at the Academy of Music Ballroom. No additional performances.

|
|
|
|
|