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RECITAL REVIEW

Pianist Judy Walker at Concerts Grand

IDIOMATIC SCHUMANN AND BEETHOVEN HIGHTLIGHT WALKER'S CONCERTS GRAND RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 23, 2018

Mostly known as a concert producer and indefatigable promoter of Sonoma County music, pianist Judy Walker stepped into the soloistís role Sept. 23 in a sold out recital for the Concerts Grand House recitals series.

Two Scarlatti Sonatas, in D Minor (K. 213) and D Major (K. 29), began the hour-long event, and she played the first slowly with a lingering character, and the presto D Major with crisp attention to flamenco guitar mood and fast repeated notes in alternating hands. The three inner parts to Schumannís five-part Op. 26 Faschingschwank aus Wien followed. The wistful and beguiling romanze led easily into the scherzino in B Flat, both performed vigorously. Ms. Walker gave passion to the popular E Flat intermezzo, certainly echt Schumann playing.

Arguably the afternoonís best playing came in Beethovenís Les Adieux Sonata, Op. 81a, and according to the artistís pithy introductory comments it was written in 1809 and was a bridge from the virtuosic Waldstein and Appassionata Sonatas to the seminal and spirited late piano works. Parts of the opening adagio-allegro with its fast staccato chords were a challenge for Ms. Walker, but she played the lovely andante (líabsence) at just the right tempo (not overly slow) and a rich tone.

One of Beethovenís most joyful movements, the concluding vivacissimament was appropriately exultant and the phrases picked up in momentum towards the end with the cascades of descending and then ascending notes. The pianist clearly had an affinity with this humorous and sprightly music, and the playing received substantial applause.

Though no encore was provided, Balakirevís arrangement of Glinkaís original song The Lark could have been one. Next to the novel harmonies of the short introduction the main laconic and sad theme was set out by Ms. Walker with clear trills and concise pedaling, allowing the haunting melody to be heard through the pianistic filigree. A captivating performance.

A patio buffet honoring Ms. Walkerís Concerts Grand debut followed the recital.

Among attendees was the artistís teacher, Peggy Nance, who played a Concerts Grand recital during the inaugural 2003-2004 season in SRJCís Newman Auditorium.