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Music And Dance Reviews : Serkin Plays Beethoven At Ucla

April 15, 1985|DANIEL CARIAGA

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.

In any case, the experience, for a large and attentive audience, and through the medium of young Serkin's utter dedication to these scores, became one of deep musical communication. After the close of Opus 111, a long silence marked the division between final chord and first applause; in that silence was an appreciation no amount of cheering can surpass.

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