It was the bottom of the ninth in Fenway Park when Dubravka Tomsic, regal in emerald and gold, swept onstage in Symphony Hall and started hitting a few home runs of her own.
The Slovenian pianist was making her eighth
Mozart is rarely played on piano recitals any more; the pieces are too exposed, too dangerous. Even if you execute them perfectly, and the chances are against it, you can still miss the point. This music is transparent but deep. Tomsic has played and recorded a fair amount of Mozart, both sonatas and concertos, but she has not programmed much Mozart here. Last night brought contrasting sonatas, in G-Major, K.283 and in A-Minor, K. 310, and the performances were miracles of poise and of probing.
Tomsic has superb coordination and equilibrium -- even in the rare moments when her fingers fleetingly veer off course, she never loses the line or the rhythm. Her right hand shapes melodic lines like a great singer; the left hand provides rhythmic and harmonic stability -- and, since this is Mozart, harmonic surprise. Every student works on these pieces; few of them can dream of playing them like this. She took her time in the slow movements; she refuses to be rushed, even when she is playing faster than you can believe. The Presto of the G-Major Sonata was fantastically swift, precise, and amusing. The harmonic clashes of the first movement of the A-Minor Sonata were disturbing; the middle section of the slow movement touched tragedy; and the finale, amazingly fast, was emotionally unstable and unsettling.
After intermission, and ushers bringing glad tidings from Fenway Park, Tomsic played the four Scherzos of Chopin. Maybe these pieces do not ask to be played as a set, but Tomsic created a different world in each of them, so the juxtapositions worked. The B-Minor Scherzo corruscated with virtuosity, and so did the Third, in C-Sharp Minor. The second Scherzo was as inexporable as fate, and the Fourth scampered playfully all over the keyboard. Nothing was offered as a technical feat, although the pianistic level was awesome. Tomsic's fundamental security enabled her to follow Chopin's fiery flights of fancy, to muse on his poetry, to realize all of her own this-time-only inspirations.
The encores, offered in response to repeated standing ovations, included a mesmerizing Chopin Nocturne, full of sighs and whispers; and two etudes from Op. 25 run together, the gossamer one winging by in thirds, and the soulful "Aeolian Harp." A romp through Villa-Lobos's "Polichinelle," a favorite encore of her teacher's (Arthur Rubinstein) led, finally, to her inevitable farewell, a Bach-Siloti Prelude that breathed a peace beyond understanding.