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It's all Goode, especially for hushed audience

April 07, 2006|Daniel Cariaga | Special to The Times

Because of his formidable presence in certain parts of the repertory -- Beethoven and Schubert come immediately to mind -- Richard Goode's versatility has sometimes been overlooked.

Yet over the years this great American pianist has shown us the breadth of his interests most convincingly.

Bach was the subject Wednesday night at Walt Disney Concert Hall when Goode returned to Los Angeles to please, thrill and titillate a roomful of enthusiastic followers. He offered three partitas and four preludes and fugues from "The Well-Tempered Clavier."

The audience was rapt in attention; coughing was nowhere to be heard.

Characteristically, Goode brought out the special emotional milieu of each partita: the pensive and mysterious C minor (No. 2), the lighthearted and genial G major (No. 5) and the ornate and baroque E minor (No. 6). Each part, each dance had its say; each was delineated sharply, each contributed to the total.

Clarity, articulation and subtle gradations of tone and thought kept the listener in thrall. One seemed to be hearing pure Bachian thinking through the most mellow pianistic medium: Goode's sound is tender but incisive. He uses the resources of the instrument -- everything from clinging legatos to sharp staccatos -- to color music already brought into focus by his lucid touch and compelling sense of line.

The "Clavier" pieces proved gems of a special order. Goode found joy, serenity and depth in the Preludes and Fugues in F major, A minor and B major of Book II and, most touchingly, in the C-sharp minor of Book I, which sounded organ-like tones few other pianists can match.

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