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Music Review : Buchbinder At Ambassador

April 23, 1985|DANIEL CARIAGA | Times Staff Writer

Sunday night, fewer than five hours after completing a four-day engagement with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the Pavilion of the Music Center, Rudolf Buchbinder made his debut appearance at Ambassador Auditorium.

The Austrian pianist has had a busy week. Deputizing for the indisposed Rudolf Serkin, Buchbinder played Mozart's Concerto in C, K. 503, with the Philharmonic on Thursday and Friday nights and again Sunday afternoon. Substituting on two-days' notice for an indisposed Horacio Gutierrez, he gave a program of Beethoven sonatas for his Pasadena debut.

At 38, Buchbinder is no newcomer to our shores. He first appeared here with the California Chamber Symphony in 1967 at the age of 20; his return visits have netted a number of memorable performances, especially in the music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.

Indeed, the Czech-born pianist from Vienna--his parents are Viennese and his musical training took place in that city--had played two of these four sonatas here, on earlier visits. But on Sunday that hardly mattered, given the authority and vision Buchbinder brought to the Sonatas in C, Opus 2, No. 3; in C minor, Opus 13; in D minor, Opus 31, No. 2, and in F minor, Opus 57.

Stylistic integrity, comprehensive technique and a genuine Beethovenian flair marked all these performances, from a pristine, witty and clarified reading of the C-major work--the lightness he achieved in the finale proved extraordinary as well as exhilarating--through a sober but lyrical account of the "Pathetique," a mellow, distanced "Tempest" Sonata and a reserved but pointed traversal of the "Appassionata."

Buchbinder gave every movement its due in terms of emotional specificity (as he sees it) and stylistic chronology; within a purposefully limited dynamic range, he indicated the place of each work in the canon. It will be interesting to compare Malcolm Bilson's playing of the "Tempest" next month, in this same room, but on a fortepiano, rather than the Steinway Buchbinder used.

Looking, though not sounding, fatigued, the compact pianist took no encores.

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