The depth and talent of young pianists was again on display at the final concert in the Young Concert Artists series held at the Morgan Library, Wednesday April 26. Daniel Liebardt, a 23-year-old Hungarian who is making his home in London, demonstrated his love of Hungarian music in playing two Liszt pieces and three short Bartok studies of 1918.
Liebardt opened with the Four Impromptus, Op. 90, by Schubert that provided a range of interpretative problems handled conservatively but with considerable force and commitment. I liked his even, strong approach. It was consistent and assuring. It was short on poetry, but it was on whole, well-balanced. The change in tempos, the clarity, and pace showed he was at home in this music. Certain familiar passages in other hands might have sounded trite, but he gave them solemnity and dignity that elevated them to the level of artistry.
The Liszt pieces were, well, Lisztian. Again they were played with measured assurance. There were no excesses; Liebhardt was in control. There was plenty of intensity and drive, but like a good jockey, he rode with care, finishing with room to spare. The pieces were “Jeux d’eau a la Villa d’Este” of 1877 and “Apres une lecture du Dante – Fantasia quasi sonata” of 1849. The latter was a tour through hell with plenty of drama, followed by a wistful review of what we had been through. The Bartok was pre-modern with suggestions of dissonances that provided an exercise in carefull playing.
The measure of pianists today is not so much in how well they play the music, as it is in what they do to it by way of interpretation. The concert goer today has heard the repertoire. What he seeks is something new; a new insight, a new sound to an old piece. In a sense, every playing is a re-creation, but some are more creative than others. In giving us a sound performance, Liebhardt reminded us that the music can be enjoyed for what it is. It doesn’t need the extraordinary—the well-tempered approach is justly appreciated.