Exceptional Recital by Mark Westcott
A big, almost defiant piano recital took place Friday evening on the Old First Church, as Mark Westcott announced his mastery to the city. The end result was in every way a remarkable event.
Westcott's unusual program opened with Beethoven's massive Diabelli Variations, opus 120. Following intermission, Westcott played Poulenc's saucy "Mouvements Perpetuels" and the virtuoso Sonata No. 2 of Rachmaninoff.
There was thus a valedictory ring to the evening. The thorny intellectual demands of the Beethoven followed by Poulenc's light finesse and a big pyrotechnique sonata covered the bases pretty thoroughly.
Westcott played all this to a turn -(possible missing text)- His style is Lisztian - a full "orchestral" tone, lots of coloration, intelligently personal in expression and pure twinkle fingers when the passage work pops up.
The Beethoven Variations - for me, his finest piano work - were unusual, refreshing in their perception. A full waltz with 23 variations on it (actually, 33 little fantasies on it) can be tedious. But Westcott held them together, taking small breaks along the way so as to suggest movement. Great idea!
He tended toward a very serious view of the Diabellis, even in the fast ones - taken at breakneck speed. Lyric segments flowed beauteously, helped by judicious, noble touches of freedom.
The Poulence was restrained, except for a small bit of brass to open the final piece. Westcott got off some handsome sounds, with just the right hint of sass.
But the great audience hit was the Rachmaninoff. It is not a great piece - and that's God's truth.
Westcott took it as what it is, a rather over-rich study in over-ripe Romanticism, and a whale of a display - especially in the final Presto - were awesome. And there was enough sheer sound from the instrument to bend keys.
It was as if Westcott were out to prove he can play the Rachmaninoff Sonata faster and more brilliantly than Horowitz. And you know something, he can!
Copied by Ben Serna-Grey
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