Misha Dichter

By Patricia E. Finger

Internationally renowned pianist Misha Dichter performed a solo recital on Friday evening, Febmary 1, at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, as part of the 1991 Bingham Endowed Series. Winner of the 1966 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Dichter studied under Artur Schnabel and at the Juilliard School in New York and continues to perform and record with major orchestras around the world. Although Dichter is known for his mastery of many styles of music, from Baroque chamber music to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," he chose for this concert works from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The first half of the program consisted of Schubert's Sonata in A minor, Op. 143, an intense, demanding work which Dichter (whose name means "poet" in German) approached enthusiastically, but without emoting the lyric quality usually found in a Schubert sonata. The Variations and Fugue in B flat major on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24, a masterpiece of twenty-five variations based on a theme from Handel's second book of harpsichord suites, provided Dichter the opportunity to display some impressive moments of technical abilities; however, his performance never seemed to get beyond the mechanics of the piece.

But Dichter was able to project the power and brilliance for which he is known during' the second half of the program, playing skillfully Bela Bartok's Fifteen Hungarian Peasant Songs, an integration of folk music with imaginative sonorities and textures typical of the composer. The last three pieces performed by Dichter, composed by Franz Liszt, undoubtedly comprised the most dynamic segment of the program. Dichter played dramatically the dark Funerailles from Harmonies Poetiques et Religieuses and delightfully the gypsy-like Valse Oubiee No. 2. Dichter finished the Liszt segment with a selection from his nineteen Hungarian Rhapsodies, No. 15 in A minor, impressively demonstrating the dynamic and dramatic style characteristic of the composer.

Unexpectedly, the best example of pianistic technique came in the final moments of the concert. Misha Dichter played his most beautiful and poetic performance of the evening during the encore, a mazurka by Chopin, exhibiting the sensitivity and artistic maturity of the Dichter about which we have heard so much.