The Music Box
The Lowell House Musical Society continued its excellent series of Sunday afternoon concerts yesterday with a piano recital by Lawrence Berman '56, one of the accompanists of the Harvard Glee Club.
The opening selection was programmed as Bach's Prelude and Fugue in A minor. Mr. Berman quickly informed his audience that it did not cone from the Well-tempered Clavier but was Liszt's arrangement of an organ work. The indicating this gave of Mr. Berman's inclinations in musical literature was accurate; Liszt figured in the first work of the program, Chopin composed the last and in between came Schumann, more Chopin, Debussy, and Rachmaninoff. From the Classical period there was only Mozart's Presto from the A-minor Sonata (K, 310). It is the climax of one of Mozart's most poignant works, but its position as an isolated movement beside the intermezzi and preludes with which the program abounded hardly does it justice. Yet only the context was at fault, not the performance; Mr. Berman set a very fast tempo, the rhythmic impulse was subtle yet vital, and the poignancy never degenerated into sentimentality. Bartok's Two Dances n Bulgarian Rhythem, short work momentarily dazzling and fascinating, represented the contemporary period.
Mr. Berman possesses a temperament perfectly attuned to the unique expressive devices of the Romantic period. That his technique was adequate goes without question; and a technique "adequate" to the Chopin Andante Spianate and Grande Polonaise in E-Flat (Op.22) is already one so prodigious and accurate, that, after briefly marveling, we may look beyond and examine his strictly interpretive qualities. Of these I have only the slightest reservations: climaxes often arrive too abruptly, without the protracted preparation which alone can insure the unified sweep of a whole movement; while Mr. Berman achieves a power and fury in the climaxes which are thrilling indeed, the expressive device of understatement is little exploited.
But the soloist possesses to a supreme degree one of the chief requirements for playing Romantic works with freedom and yet clarity; a sense of rhythmic propulsion. One can only be free of a strict meter when one controls it absolutely; Mr. Berman did. The innumerable arpeggios were not merely a blur of sound but a powerfully directed line.
The audience recalled Mr. Berman three times after his final selection and he may be excused for not giving an encore after the accomplished execution of such an ambitious program.