Music Reviews : Martin and Goode in Beethoven Program

The third concert in the "Music for Mischa" series was devoted to one composer, and featured only one other performer in addition to cellist and series producer Robert Martin, who performs on each of the four programs. Collaborating with his fellow Curtis Institute alumnus, pianist Richard Goode presented a rather serious Beethoven program Tuesday evening at Gindi Auditorium.

Expansive and daunting for performer and listener, the "Hammerklavier" Sonata makes for a heady recital-opener. Exhibiting flawless control and unshakable confidence, Goode delivered a bold, dramatic reading of the work. His wide dynamic range, sense of motion and sheer power created considerable tension, and he proved able to produce sudden and often striking changes of mood. He successfully brought to light the work's massive, symphonic dimensions, and delivered the Adagio with particular intensity.

Goode's energetic, muscular approach did steal some of the lyricism from melodic passages, and the Scherzo lacked the lightness one would have liked to hear; albeit technically accurate, the movement came off as heavy and somber. Yet, Goode's proved an intelligent vision of the work, one with a consistent, unified thesis. And with headlong determination but complete clarity he rounded it off with a particularly exciting and memorable account of the fugal Finale.

Two cello-and-piano sonatas comprised the second half of the program. In contrast to Goode's assured playing, cellist Martin seemed tentative and even disinterested. Though he at times produced a sweet, clear sound and his vibrato was not without warmth, his tone quality varied considerably, at times sounding thin and edgy. One sensed that he has a fine feel for melodic contour, but it was often difficult to hear his playing. Goode, who played as assertively as before, frequently covered up the cellist's melodic lines. Martin experienced some intonation problems from time to time, most noticeably at the beginning of the Sonata in A, Opus 69. Rhythmic unity between the two musicians, however, remained healthy, in this and in the short Sonata in C, Opus 102, No. 1.

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