Mark Westcott Artist, Piano Teacher, Lecturer, Author

Pianist Mark Westcott in UCLA Recitial

Mark Westcott, who made his local debut in a Royce Hall piano recital Friday night, is something of an original. In appearance he suggests a blonde, All-American athletic — his publicity states that he swims half a mile every day — but when he settles down to the piano he commands musical as well as personal attention.

Ha has the kind of big shapely hands that seem to fit every kind of keyboard pattern comfortably. They can stir up storms of bravura and they can precisely manipulate a wide range of orchestral coloring. Occasionally that pianist's exuberance betrays him into a fury that borders on harshness, but in the main he can be counted on for tonal suavity at all dynamic levels.

One of his distinctive characteristics is his capacity to blend intelligent objectivity with emotional response. It does not always work to perfection but when it does it is impressive.

But Beethoven's Sonata, Opus 110, was virtually a model of controlling sobriety and probing insights. The first movement found a convincing balance of lyrical urgency and thoughtfulness. The activity of the Scherzo was kept well in hand, the Artioso Dolente sang sorrowfully without affection, and the fugue unfolded with smooth logic.

The pianist made much of the strivings and posturings of Scriabin's "Black Mass" Sonata No. 9, although it now and then seemed like a thankless task.

But Westcott found nothing thankless about three excerpts from Liszt's "Annees de Pelerinage." He sounded the poetry of the Sonetto 104 del Petrarca" without resort to bombast. He offered a tonally rippling account of "Au bord d'une source," and he built up the "Ballee d'Obermann" to heights of thunderous bravura.

A beautiful sensitive version of Schumann's Romance in F Sharp followed for an encore, together with Moszkowski's "Caprice Espagnole." Earlier in the program the pianist added Poulenc's Three "Mouvements Perpetuels," charmingly played, because a young lady he had met on the plane from San Francisco had requested something French.


Copied by Ben Serna-Grey

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