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Music Reviews : Pianist Daniel Pollack At Royce Hall

June 01, 1987|JOHN HENKEN

Daniel Pollack seems to be a household name, in houses with pianos at least. At any rate, he filled UCLA's Royce Hall Saturday evening with an attentive, adulatory crowd.

It was a fine night for those who like to hum along at recitals. The native Angeleno, who now teaches at USC, stuck to familiar Romantic works for his long, taxing program.

It was also a rewarding evening for admirers of protean keyboard display. Pollack dropped the odd note or two, but his clear playing proved strong and well-directed, occasionally to the point of a surprising bluntness. Despite manifold temptations to indulgence, Pollack maintained an almost austere sense of control.

The least common piece was the opening Prelude, Chorale and Fugue by Franck. Pollack stressed thematic permutation over the nebulous figuration and blustery bravura bits, illuminating and unifying structure with sure hands.

If Franck's opus enjoys a sort of cyclical popularity, Schumann's "Carnaval" we have with us always. Pollack separated the cycle into well-defined miniatures. If that fractured the much vaunted unity of the work, it also banished the cloying earnestness now common, relying instead on charm and forthright pianism.

The balance of the program provided a study in contrasts. A very quick account of Beethoven's C-minor Variations, thoroughly Baroque in spirit, was followed by appropriately poetic, but never enervated, Chopin--the Nocturne in D-flat and the Fourth Ballade.

Pollack closed the printed schedule with the hey-look-me-over glitz of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6. He seemed tired, but after he took several bows, insistent, sustained applause brought him back for a lone, unidentified encore.

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