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Time to mature

Pianist Stewart Goodyear plays an uneven program,


From little acorns, mighty oaks grow. That is as true in music as in nature. Young talent takes time to mature. Some five years ago the Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear made his South Florida début playing Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini on tour with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Jukka Pekka Saraste. His performance was technically brilliant. He seemed a born virtuoso. Yet something was lacking. He failed to permeate the irony and dark subtext that lies beneath the music's glittering surface. (Around the same time, that dazzling keyboard artist Nelson Freire gave a performance with the Florida Philharmonic under Jean Claude Casadesus that fused the bravura and dramatic elements of Rachmaninoff's work to perfection.) On 29 July 2004 at Coral Gables Congregational Church, Goodyear returned to present a wide ranging recital. He remains a paradoxical musician. While he revealed some provocative interpretive ideas, too much of his playing strived for superficial effect.

Goodyear's most impressive offering was Beethoven's Sonata No 31 in A flat major Op 110. In this sonata, Beethoven summarizes the monumental, experimental elements of his creative genius in a tightly conceived score. There is not a note too many in this piece. Goodyear brought expressive line to the opening Moderato cantabile, molto expressivo. He clearly understood the grand scale of Beethoven's musical conception. The pianist brought vigor and character to the Molto allegro. He conquered the full tonal and dynamic range of the Adagio, ma non troppo. Goodyear played this slow movement with a sense of the somber gravity that lies beneath the notes. He cleanly delineated the contrapuntal lines of the Fuga: Allegro. The score's conclusion had impact and power. While his performance lacked the magisterial sublimity of Konstantin Lifschitz or the autumnal nobility of Alfred Brendel, Goodyear brought tremendous power and musicality to Beethoven's valedictory keyboard score. A thoughtfully conceived performance!

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Copyright © 7 August 2004 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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