Producing a huge but edgeless tone and demonstrating a genuinely comprehensive technique, the Slovenian pianist Dubravka Tomsic, 58 this year, made a belated Los Angeles debut in Schoenberg Hall at UCLA on Saturday night. Two months later and she might have done so in retrofitted Royce Hall, which would probably be a more appropriate acoustic venue for her gifts.
Tomsic is, no doubt about it, one of the elite. Her musical horizons--shown in a fairly limited repertorial scope on this occasion--are clearly broad, her mechanical resources more abundant than those of many major-competition winners, her sensibilities honed to important stylistic niceties.
Saturday, her playing lacked only that ultimate veneer of polish: great individuality and emotional rapport with her audience. One expects they may appear at later exposures.
A discerning audience of pianists and piano-fanciers was treated to a feast of near-rarities and test-pieces: Beethoven's often-overlooked Sonata in G, Opus 31, No. 1, Book II of Debussy's "Images," followed by his "L'Isle Joyeuse," Brahms' Fantasies, Opus 116, and his second book of finger-knotting "Paganini" Variations.
To each, Tomsic brought an utter ease of execution, a projected artistic overview and an unflappable sense of musical rightness. Still, the pianist often seemed to be leaving herself out of the total presentation; she remained equally standoffish with every work. In any case, her next visit here will deserve close scrutiny.