Boris Bloch is a pianist cast in heroic mold. Few pianists of any age or nationality, even in this abnormally endowed era of piano playing, can match the scope and versatility of the mastodonic program the young Soviet emigre played in Murphy Hall of Loyola Marymount University Friday night. But where was the piano-conscious public? It is missing an exciting talent.
Bloch is also a risk-taker as well as a conventional virtuoso. He dared George Crumb's Three Pieces for Amplified Piano--in which the pianist is called on to use his arms, fists and elbows to reach into the interior of the instrument and scratch the strings, all the while singing nonsense syllables into a microphone--with the aplomb of a veteran avant-gardist. Not only that, he made sound musical sense of the operation.
Bloch can play spectacularly, but he is shrewd enough to not always consciously aim at the spectacular. To observe the Domenico Scarlatti tercentenary he chose five unfamiliar sonatas, and played them for pianistic--rather than harpsichord--values, without any sacrifice for style, charm or sensitivity.
He turned his attention to Schumann's massive third Grand Sonata, Opus 14, subtitled "Concerto Without Orchestra," which only Horowitz has braved in recent years, and discovered equal amounts of exhilarating bravura and lyrical tenderness in the vast canvas.