Times Music Writer

After playing here for 31 years--she made her United States debut, in Los Angeles, in 1954--Alicia de Larrocha remains every pianist’s role model.

Returning to the Pavilion of the Music Center on Tuesday night, the distinguished Spanish musician again reinforced her image, reputation and artistic persona. In a program of works by Bach and Schumann, Larrocha produced consistently convincing, authoritative and touching performances.

She did so this time against a strong disadvantage: the presence, in a well-filled auditorium, of great numbers of coughers. In every movement, usually in every minute, of this event, explosive noises coming from the audience disturbed the clear hearing of music.


Though these distracting sounds regularly punctuated the pianist’s every musical statement, she gave no evidence of losing concentration. Logic, sweep and imperturbability characterized her playing of Bach’s Fantasy in C minor , “Italian” Concerto and the Chaconne (in the transcription by Ferruccio Busoni) from the D-minor Partita for violin, and Schumann’s C-major Fantasy, Opus 17.

Discredited for too long as a work for empty virtuoso display, Busoni’s brilliant transcription of the Chaconne needs just the kinds of musical strength and linear breadth Larrocha brings to it. Whereas, in the C-minor Fantasy and “Italian” Concerto, she produced a brittle and slender sound reminiscent of the harpsichord, in the Chaconne, her edgeless tone, deep resonance and perfect legato imitated the organ, to stunning effect.

In Schumann’s wide-ranging, emotionally charged Fantasy, Larrocha’s deflected pianistic sound proved just one of many artistic resources with which she wrought wondrous details of statement, song and articulation, and thus crowned her program.

After that, only a complete contrast would suffice. The pianist provided such in three encores of varying character. They were: A Sonata in G minor by Padre Soler; a Dance by Federico Mompou, and an excerpt from Manuel de Falla’s “El Sombrero de Tres Picos.”