On Friday Oct. 21, pianist Richard Goode took to the Memorial Chapel stage in front of a small but enthusiastic audience. Opening the performance with Mozart’s “Fantasy in C minor,” it was immediately clear even to a non-pianist that Goode is a very skilled technician and musician.
His hands moved seamlessly from chord to chord and note to note, each one played with purpose, intention and a level of expression seldom heard.
Throughout his concert, I was struck by the passion Goode dedicated to each number, though it sometimes rose to a distracting level. Goode not only moved to the ebb and flow of his music, but also jumped and hummed with it.
This was not quite as apparent in the opening half as the second, but on strong accents and dramatic tempo changes Goode would leave his seat on the bench when he struck an accented chord in a powerful section of the piece.
While this added tension and a certain effect to the performance, it sometimes distracted from the music. Throughout the concert during quiet sections or particularly intense portions of the music, Goode could be faintly heard humming along with the bass line of the progression, or the tonic note of the section.
Though I’m sure in other halls the humming might have been so subtle as to not be heard, in the chapel it was amplified by the reverberations of the hall and became more than a slight background noise to be ignored or passed off.
Despite the slight distractions, Goode still easily managed to draw the audience into his performance. After many of the pieces, in the second half particularly, there was audible tension released as the audience let out the breath they had been holding in with the intensity of the piece.
He particularly moved the audience just before intermission with his performance of Beethoven’s “Sonata in E-flat, Op. 31, No. 3,” after which he received a standing ovation.
He performed the entire two-hour concert from memory, transitioning between eras, styles and emotions seamlessly. In addition to the concert on Friday, he also performed an hour and a half lecture recital also from memory the next day, with an entirely different set of repertoire.
The second half of the concert was dedicated exclusively to Chopin. Goode wrote a small section on Chopin in the program, in which he gave a little background on the composer and offered his own understanding of each of the pieces he performed on the program, which was very useful in understanding his interpretations.
Goode’s energy throughout the performance was very impressive; his dedication during the entire show never wavered, if anything increased, as the night progressed.
He became more expressive, more animated and moved deeper into the music as the concert went on.
When he left the stage after the final chord of the concluding piece of Fridays concert, Chopin’s “Ballad No. 3 in A-flat major, Op. 47,” the audience leapt to their feet and burst into applause, and Goode was forced to return to stage several times to take bow after bow.
When it was clear the audience wouldn’t accept no for an answer, Goode sat down at the bench to play Bach’s “Sarabande” from his first partita as an encore. The gentle piece left the audience calm and relaxed, and Goode left to the applause of an audience satisfied with an outstanding performance.