After years of study and training to create strong hands, a big tone and maximum musical impact, one of the more oppressive duties facing touring pianists is the frequent need to scale down one's keyboard resources.
Regina Shamvili, the pianist from Soviet Georgia, solved the problem neatly when she made her local debut on Saturday night at Loyola Marymount University. She simply ignored the fact that she was playing in a room which holds only 205 listeners; she lavished upon the resident Hamburg Steinway the handsome tone, aural perspective and musical integrity she would have done in a hall seating 3,000.
The results, as they had to be, were mixed. One admired Shamvili's grandiose, big-boned, emotionally expansive approach to Beethoven's Sonata in A, Opus 101, Chopin's F-minor Fantasy and Schumann's "Kreisleriana"--and her command of the technical means to make such an approach work.
But one did not appreciate hearing these masterpieces through a haze of pedaling and, under the circumstances, dynamic overstatement. In an appropriate arena, the pianist's sense of drama and unsheathed songfulness will be cherishable; here, it seemed outsize.