Piano concert: Antoinette Perry, William Wellborn and Douglas Ashcraft
Sunday, June 9
Lowman Concert Hall, Idyllwild Arts Ccmpus
This particular Sunday afternoon turned out to be especially well-suited to a program of easy-going piano selections, being warmer than usual for the Hill, and though not generally conducive to indoor presentations, proved comfortable enough. Unfortunately, this reviewer arrived later than expected (due to a misread of the starting time), and was thus subjected to the closing moments of the four-hand arrangement of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik — something one would have preferred to hear in its original string format anyway — and from the appreciative audience reaction, the prospects for the remainder of the program were still intact. For the works chosen for multiple pianists, relying on the emeriti of Los Angeles and San Francisco (Ms. Perry and Mr. Wellborn, respectively) as well as Idyllwild Arts’ own Mr. Ashcraft, those proved to be a worthwhile presentation; the 10 selections from the Brahms Opus 39 waltzes, as well as the five pieces of Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite” were polished enough to carry the day. However, the more impressive solo performances left a better impression, at least to this listener, and in variety of makeup also provided the very range of piano sonority and methodical effort. Mr. Ashcraft’s essaying of Chopin’s late two nocturnes (from Opus 62) was a marvel of control, and Ms. Perry’s playing of the Copland Piano Variations from 1930 was a model for the presentation of this work, being as straightforward as possible without betraying its predictable course as a “competition piece.” The three selections in solo performance by Mr. Wellborn included a little-known Impromptu in A Major by Jan Vaclav Hugo Vorisek, which in its Schubertian mode proved to be an interesting byway to the Romantic era of Viennese music, and his presentation of two short pieces by Charles-Valentin Alkan clarified the French Romanticism of the mid-19th century and bolstered the transition to the Ravel suite, where Messrs. Ashcraft and Wellborn combined their efforts in an exactingly suave presentation of fairytale wonderment which was exceedingly rewarding. So, for an atypically lackadaisical Sunday afternoon in Idyllwild’s natural surroundings, all three of the performers gave out a remarkably pleasant, if not so profound, ambient background.