Completing a survey (begun in January) of Beethoven's six final piano sonatas, Peter Serkin on Friday night returned to Royce Hall at UCLA to play a program listing, in this order, the works numbered Opus 109, Opus 110 and Opus 111.
As he had at the first installment, the 37-year-old American pianist displayed seriousness, textual awareness, a probing musical mind and emotional depths. And, of course, all the resources of technique, stamina and musical intelligence required for the task.
For listeners familiar with these three cathartic and seraphic works, there were no surprises, only numerous reminders of the composer's original indications as integrated with Serkin's thoughtful overview of each movement.
"Songfulness as conversation" would describe his improvisatory manner in the slow movements framing Opus 109, the opening and third parts of Opus 110 and the extended finale to Opus 111. "Spiritual vehemence" might be the name of his agitated but centered approach to the more violent movements.