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Perahia Delivers Perfection

April 08, 2002|DANIEL CARIAGA | TIMES MUSIC WRITER

Murray Perahia has been playing solo recitals in Los Angeles since the 1970s, and a fortunate few have heard most of those programs. Some of those longtime Perahia followers were again in Royce Hall when the beloved American pianist returned Friday night. They could not have been disappointed.

Everything Perahia played provoked the senses, titillated the musical mind, flooded the emotional receptors. His daunting program bestowed pleasure and variety on the listener while challenging the pianist. Perahia conquered all, illuminated all. The playing was beautiful, the experience exhilarating.

Major masterpieces, played with spontaneity, occupied the first half, which began with Beethoven's breathtaking (after all these years!) 32 Variations in C minor and crested on the free-flowing but profound A-major Sonata of Schubert, D. 959.

The Chopin half of the program was bookended by two Ballades, the F-major and the A-flat; in between came two Mazurkas, three etudes and the rarely encountered B-major Nocturne, Opus 62, No. 1. The first encore was the "Winter Wind" Etude.

Concentrated heat, an emotional connection to every piece of music and a sense of constant rediscovery were present in all these performances. Perahia's trademark accuracy and technical security also marked the entire recital.

The pianist seems to live every bar of music he produces, yet he does so without apparent strain or visible angst. This is his paradox: making so much heat, but remaining outwardly cool.

With Perahia, the listener finds himself in the presence of a master performer who guides one patiently through thickets of tradition and rituals of style while making it all seem natural and inevitable.

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