happens frequently, the best musical bargain in town last weekend was the
free concert at the National Gallery Sunday night.
performer was Barbara Moser, a young Austrian pianist who has won several
major competitions, made five solo recordings and embarked on an
impressive international career. Her program was devoted largely to music
from Vienna -- Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert -- and she played with a
special sensitivity to the unique lyric qualities of that city's music.
Schubert segment was a set of songs transcribed by Franz Liszt, who filled
the program's second half with piano adaptations of music originally
composed to be sung. From the 56 Schubert songs available in Liszt
transcriptions, Moser played five carefully chosen for elegance, contrast
art of reconstructing a song on the piano poses special challenges to the
composer and to the performer. The goal is to take advantage of the
piano's brilliance and freedom while retaining the expressiveness and
sense of vulnerability associated with the solo voice -- in effect, to
create the illusion that the piano has to breathe. This art is one that
has been developed to a high level in Vienna and that Moser understands.
other Liszt selection, "Reminiscences of 'Norma,' " presented a
different kind of transcription, an opera condensed into a piece for solo
piano -- vast panoramas of virgin forest with Druids and Roman legionaries
and a mother struggling to reconcile forbidden love and stern duty. No
other composer has had quite the touch that Liszt had for creating this
kind of drama, and Moser responded to his imagination brilliantly.
opened the program with Mozart's Fantasy in C minor, K. 475, a work that
came into being as an improvisation and was polished into its final form,
strikingly like the mature style of Beethoven, through repeated
performances before Mozart wrote it down. Played properly, the music comes
across as though happening for the first time. That's how it sounded in
highlight of the program -- the best music and the most brilliant
performance -- was in Beethoven's Fifteen Variations and Fugue on an
Original Theme, Op. 35, known as the "Eroica" Variations.
used the same theme in the glorious last movement of his Third Symphony.
The music goes through dazzling transformations requiring prodigious
technique and a highly developed feeling for forms. Moser supplied what
program will feature flutist Karen Johnson and pianist Brian Ganz. The
National Gallery's 58th American Music Festival begins May 6 with a jazz
2001 The Washingt Post Company