Mark Westcott Artist, Piano Teacher, Lecturer, Author

Mark Westcott With the Richmond Sinfonia (Scottish Rite Temple)

Some call it heart, some call it soul. The ten-dollar words for it are musicality and sensitivity. Whatever it is, pianist Mark Westcott has it and is lavish in displaying it with the Richmond Sinfonia in the fifth subscription concert at the Scottish Rite Temple.

Last night's audience called Westcott back for an encore and six curtain called following his superb interpretation of Beethoven's "Fist Piano Concert." The program, which includes Samuel barber's "Capricorn" Concert and Schubert's Symphony No. 1 in D Major, is being repeated tonight. Tickets are available for a performance that should not be missed.

Westcott's name may soon join those of the keyboard giants.

So just what does he do? Naturally he has digital dexterity, but behind those flying fingers is a brain that is always working. Plenty of performers have facility, but Westcott has that superior musical intelligence that distinguishes real interpretation from merely getting all the notes.

A concerto is a miniature drama - a dialogue, and sometimes a conflict, between soloist and orchestra. Moreover, the solo instrument is called upon to play many parts in it's brief hour upon the stage.

Westcott gave a distinct personality to every one of those parts. He characterized, and differentiated, each phrase with a manner of articulation perfectly suited to it's role.

Articulation is one of those gray, almost mystical, areas of music where language fears to tread. Between staccato (clipped, detached playing) and legato (smooth, connected playing) lies a multitude of gradations that have few labels in musical terminology. For definitions in musical sound, consult Mr. Westcott's dictionary.

Westcott is assured, bold, dynamic. But most impressive to his listener are his tendered and deliberateness with a singing line. One of the two Chopin preludes he performed as an encore was the familiar, even hackneyed Prelude in A Major - instantly recognizable as a staple of the young student pianist's repertoire.

Westcott played this tired little piece at the slowest possible tempo and at the very threshold of hearing. The audience held it's collective breath and heard the work transformed before it's ears into a jewel of the most delicate loveliness.

Westcott's is not the only contribution to a fine evening of music. Conductor Jacques Houtmann and the members of the sinfonia are at their best for this concert. And the programming is excellent.

Stephen Kennamer

Copied by Ben Serna-Grey

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