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John Davison

In the Adams House Lower Common Room

By Lawrence R. Casler

John Davison, in the dual role of pianist and composer, gave a recital of rather unfamiliar music in Adams House Sunday night. As a pianist he is only middling, but as a composer he shows talent, imagination, and originality.

Davison, who is doing graduate work in the Harvard music department, warmed up with the Preclude from Bach's Fourth English Suite-a routine piece, mechanically played. After a pleasant set of Variations by Buxtehude, Davison Joined with violinist Paul Revitt to play Schubert's Duo Sonata, (op.162). Despite the high opus number, it is a product of Schubert's youth, full of happy tunes and harmonic surprises. But Revitt's thievish tone and generally erratic technique made thorough enjoyment of the price difficult. Three Brahms Intermezzi followed, all of them receiving broad, well-molded performances.

Then came the new music. After setting up his audience with two innocuous bits of Impressionism by a college teacher named Alfred J. Swan, Davison presented three of his own wonderful compositions. He sticks pretty close to the old from but is no slave to them, liberally sprinkling his Toccatas and Sonatina with folksy, jazzy elements. This results in coherent outlines that form the rich and varied content of the works. The reliance on structure can backfire, though, and the final section of his Introduction Chorale, Preclued, and Fugue was weighted down with dry academics. For an encore Davison played the scherzo from his violin sonata, music full of motion and vitality. Revitt made up for his earlier lapses with a sensitive, rhymically vibrant performance.

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