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Dance and Music Reviews : Pianist Offers Polish-Hungarian Works

March 26, 1993|DONNA PERLMUTTER

Pianist Rachel Franklin gave an unknown 19th-Century composer equal billing with Chopin in a Pro Musicis Foundation recital Wednesday at the L.A. County Museum of Art.

Of course, it made sense to include one Juliusz Zarebski on a Polish-Hungarian program that even enlisted Bach, by way of a Liszt arrangement, and went on to explore choice Bartok.

More than that, it allowed the British-born musician to demonstrate her core gift: a profound admiration for the various works she played and a conscientiousness in regard to their mode, mood and materials, one that overtook her pride in mastery of such.

A listener could sense, for example, how thoroughly Franklin enjoyed her exposition of Bach's A-minor Prelude and Fugue--even without benefit of a prepossessing performance style.

Elsewhere it was much the same. In a Liszt group that included the first "Valse Oubliee," the pianist gave perfectly sensitive readings but stopped short of realizations that allowed the music to grab a listener by the lapels--except for a boldly wrought "Bagatelle sans Tonalite."

Using the same crisp hammered attack Franklin revealed herself at greatest command in Bartok's Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs. She delineated these complex miniatures by way of their oblique harmonies, sternly aggressive tone and rhythmic willfulness.

Her enthusiastic advocacy of Zarebski--three pieces that proved charming, light-hearted and showy--did not disprove the will of history. And even though Chopin's "Funeral March" Sonata gets played by many virtuosos who pass by here, she made a more effective showing with it than with the work of a second-rate composer.

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