Scarlet and Gold

Egle Januleviciute, pianist, in recital

At the First United Methodist Church, Tuesday, May 2.

Reviewed by Gerald Carpenter

Egle Januleviciute lived up to all the enthusiasm I poured out in these pages in advance of this concert — and in the event, it was my powers of description that fell short, not her playing.

Seated high in the upper gallery, looking directly toward the altar, I had a perfect Busby Berkeley view of her performance. The piano was placed at the crossing of the nave and transept, on the level; she was also at the crossing of broad crimson carpets. Tall and elegant and dressed in black, she showed us her profile and moved very little, and even then with the utmost in economy and grace. Wherever you went in that church, she was at the center: a flawless composition.

She performed a rich and strange program, completely from memory. (It makes her laugh when I mention this, since, in her world, you don’t ask anyone to pay to hear you sight-read.) There were three long pieces, each with a witty and erudite introduction by Dr. Alejandro Planchart.

The concert opened with Bach’s Partita No. 2 in C Minor. Every bit as nimble as Glenn Gould’s, Egle’s Bach is somehow weightier, darker — more a tidal wave than a sparkling stream, but always crystal clear.

Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Opus 42 followed, but did little to lighten things up. Indeed, the Corelli “theme,” the folia from Opus 5, No. 12, is, except for the “March” from Purcell’s Funeral Music for Queen Mary, just about the most austerely solemn music I know. Rachmaninoff takes to it like a duck to water, spinning off variants like sparks.

The evening concluded with another bashful masterpiece: Chopin’s Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Opus 58. Far less frequently played than the Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Opus 35, it also is a masterwork of the very highest order — as Dr. Planchart pointed out, the two are just about the only sonatas worth listening to from the time, and the only ones that owe very little to Beethoven. With Egle as one’s guide, who could fail to be awestruck?

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