Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

MUSIC REVIEW : Pianist Awadagin Pratt Returns to Ambassador

November 04, 1994|DANIEL CARIAGA | TIMES MUSIC WRITER

Other elements may change or dominate, yet surprise seems to be the one constant in recitals by the extravagantly gifted, young American pianist, Awadagin Pratt.

When he first appeared here, in a Gold Medal series debut at Ambassador Auditorium in November, 1992, the then-26-year-old startled (according to Timothy Mangan's report in The Times) with his power, his probing intellect and the easy way he met a variety of pianistic challenges.

The surprises in his April, 1994, recital at UCLA added over-loudness, a monochromatic palette and certain artistic overreaching to his acknowledged arsenal.

Wednesday night, back at Ambassador, the dreadlocked, casually dressed--a sports shirt and slacks--Pratt brought a potluck of a program, delivered it more or less neatly, and revealed again his ability to be controversial. Specializing this time around in self-communing and contemplation, he surprised us in the first half of his recital with uneventful, even boring, piano-playing.

Having heard him just seven months ago, one would not have expected such mumbling dullness as emerged in two brief ballades by Brahms and in Beethoven's important early Sonata, the one in D, Opus 10, No. 3. But there it was: truly self-absorbed, unprojected, low-energy playing, and none of it offensively loud.

Stronger signs of life and an awakened sense of articulation characterized the post-intermission arrival of Haydn, in the two-movement Sonata No. 41, in B-flat. Then, Brahms' own arrangement of his Theme and Variations from the Opus 18 Sextet, played plainly and without the inner workings delineated; indeed, through most of this concert, Pratt seemed physically incapable of bringing out inner voices. Is this stubbornness or a lack of technique? Take your pick.

Chopin's subsequent F-major Ballade offered louds and softs but very little of the broad world in-between. Then, by way of closing, Pratt delivered--with little passion, little polish and without the kaleidoscopic color-spectrum generations of pianists have found indispensable--three Preludes by Rachmaninoff. OK, but not definitive.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|