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PLAYS LISZT WORKS : PIANIST SGOUROS RETURNS TO PASADENA

No one knows who or what is behind the Iron Curtain, but outside those borders, the musical prodigy market is slack.

One of the most successful is the young Greek, Dimitris Sgouros, now 18, who played his second recital in Ambassador Auditorium on Tuesday night. (His first was in 1984.) Sgouros has already acquired a loyal following; the hall, the orchestra pit and both sides of the stage were fully occupied.

In an oddly selected program, one could detect no evidence of anything that might be considered to resemble genius. One heard smooth piano playing, an always somewhat shallow tone no matter what the dynamics, and a certain amount of uncommunicative expressiveness, all deployed with considerable self-assurance.

A Scarlatti Sonata in D was fleet, a little labored, and not very crisp. Beethoven’s “Les Adieux” Sonata lightly sketched in the requisite emotional responses without enough emphasis to make any strong points. Liszt’s Sonata in B minor was adequately mastered but unreeled so slowly and carefully as to eliminate any striking dramatic conflict. Earlier, Liszt’s “Harmonies du Soir” offered little cause to justify its closing the pre-intermission period.

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The applause was tepid, but once the pianist was seated for an encore all that serious restraint fell off like a mask.

Sgouros cut loose with Liszt’s paraphrase on the Quartet from “Rigoletto,” melodically distorted but a first-class exhibition of old-fashioned, all-out, reckless bravura. It seemed to convert Sgouros into a quite different type of pianist, but in Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in D, Opus 23, and Liszt’s “Transcendental” Etude No. 10 (“Wilde Jagd”), the fire had relapsed to its more or less original smoldering state.


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