Paine Hall seemed a little more acoustically frigid than usual Wednesday night when Noel Lee '46 began his recital. To his first two pieces, Froberger's Suite in D Major and Frescobaldi's Five Italian Dances, the pianist failed to bring the warmth which has made his playing of Thoroughbass music distinctive and successful. And, on this occasion that warmth was particularly missed, since unfortunately what the performance lacked in feeling was not compensated for by the pieces themselves.
These introductory bits served a purpose, however, in preparing both pianist and audience for Hindemith's Sonata No. 1, for by the time Lee reached the second movement it was apparent to all that he was in complete command. The Hindemith piece, a product of the composer's earlier romantic period, is somewhat long for what it contains, nor does it have sufficient unity to bind it together. "In the tempo of a very slow march," the second movement, however, does include passages of great beauty, and the pianist put it forth with unquestioned understanding and competence. The growing excitement, sound, and tempo of the last movement gave Lee a chance to display his talent for emotional playing at its best.
Milhaud's "Saudades do Brazil" filled the gap between the two chief pieces on the program as enjoyable and amusing selections. They were followed by the longest work of the concert, Brahms' "Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel." To this listener the sum of the component parts presents a rather uneven collection of interesting and dull music, chief objection to which lies in the fact that the peaks and lows arrive with such regularity that one finds himself awaiting what Pope called "The sure return of still expected rhymes." Fortunately, there is a Fugue of romantic exuberance to top off the work. The skill of both composer and performer were combined on this last to present a triumphal finale to an extremely difficult work and an interesting and successful concert.