After an impressive debut appearance here a year ago this month, the young Canadian pianist Louis Lortie returned to Ambassador Auditorium, Pasadena, on Thursday night and impressed all over again.
This time, the 28-year old virtuoso offered a Dionysian/Apollonian mix of a program, the first half devoted to Chopin, the second to Ravel. Lortie brought to both parts a sense of musical order, stylistic conviction and a high level of achieved and unflappable technique.
His strongest attribute would seem to be an original musical mind, one which seeks its own well-considered solutions to interpretive problems. There were many times in the course of this performance when those solutions could be questioned or disparaged, yet in no moment did their apparent logic or sincerity falter. As a recitalist, Lortie is in that most elite group: musical companions of sufficient personality and intellect to hold the sophisticated listener's interest for an entire evening.
Still, it must be said that this program never reached an emotional temperature of memorable heat. A certain distancing and coolness marked even the cris de coeur in Chopin's climactic moments.