There was a rare sighting of Radu Lupu at Shriver Hall on Sunday evening. The elusive Romanian pianist had not been there in three decades, and his last concert in the area was at the NIH a decade ago (he canceled on the BSO at the last minute in 2005, and Jens last reviewed him, with Mitsuko Uchida and the New York Philharmonic, in 2007). With the 60-something Lupu's crown of hair now whitened and his bushy gray beard, one could easily mistake his profile at the piano for that of the older Johannes Brahms. Seated fully on his trademarked high-backed office chair, with his eyes often closed, Lupu alternately caressed and walloped the keyboard in a recital that was extraordinary for its interpretative long shots more than for the surmounting of technical challenges.
Radu Lupu Plays Schubert
Beethoven Concertos, Sonatas
The least pleasing Beethoven was the most familiar, the "Pathétique" (op. 13, C minor), the least technically polished (the hand crossings in the first movement, the triplets in the third) and with the fast sections not as propulsive. It was certainly good but not the revelatory performance one wants to hear from Lupu (compared to my current favorite Beethoven set, by Paul Lewis, for example). The second movement was sumptuous and slow, although here, too, Lupu has recomposed the score in his memory, adding a section of music before the A-flat minor section at measure 37.
Tim Smith, Radu Lupu offers stunning recital at Shriver Hall (Clef Notes, February 9)
Lawrence A. Johnson, A remarkable Schubert journey with Radu Lupu (South Florida Classical Review, February 3)
Vivien Schweitzer, A Swirling Symphony From the Vault (New York Times, January 30)
The next concert at Shriver Hall will feature the Brentano Quartet with pianist Peter Serkin (March 8, 5:30 pm). The program includes Schoenberg's Ode to Napoleon , with baritone Richard Lalli, and a new piano quintet by Charles Wuorinen.