As has been noted often during the decade and more that Minoru Nojima has been appearing here, the Japanese pianist seems at home in every corner of the repertory. His versatility has long since been proven, his command of different styles probed. And, with every annual visit, he reconfirms the breadth of his vision.
Friday night in Royce Hall at UCLA, Nojima surveyed the seraphic and the demonic in two contrasting bulwarks of the literature, Schubert's B-flat Sonata and Liszt's Sonata in B minor.
He did so with arresting ease and no sense of ambiguity. Utter repose and inexorable rhythms characterized his Schubert. Only occasionally, a brittle chord or a harsh forte emerged to distract; otherwise, calm and lyricism and the abstraction of profound emotion prevailed.
In the Liszt Sonata, Nojima offered a splendid musical overview, complete with cumulative climaxes, contrasting dynamic valleys, sharp details and sculptured melody. One missed only the full range of pianistic colors to complete the broad picture.
At the beginning, there was gentleness and violence in his limning of Bartok's Suite, Opus 14. At the end, shimmering translucence marked his first encore, "Ondine," from Ravel's "Gaspard de la Nuit."