Richard Goode reviewed in the New York Times
Published: 27 April 2012
Classics With a Spirit of Improvisation: The Pianist Richard Goode at Carnegie Hall
By Allan Kozinn, Published: April 27, 2012
At first glance, the program that the pianist Richard Goode played at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday evening seemed dispiritingly constricted. The two composers whose works he performed, Schumann and Chopin, were born in the same year, 1810, and the works he chose were all composed within a decade, from 1838 to 1847.
But anyone who has followed Mr. Goode’s five-decade career knows that a program’s apparent limitations amount to little if he is in an exploratory mood, and more often than not, he is. Here his fluid, often tempestuous performances had the twin virtues of fidelity to the scores and the sense of freshness that comes of an in-the-moment approach to phrasing.
That was especially true of the Chopin works in the second half of the program. Over the last dozen years, Mr. Goode said in a recent interview, he has been especially drawn to Chopin’s distinctive approach to the piano and the spirit of improvisation that his works embody.
He conveyed that quality in his rhythmically restless rendering of the Nocturne No. 16 (Op. 55, No. 2), an impetuous, dramatic reading of the Ballade No. 3 (Op. 47) and a performance of the Scherzo No. 3 (Op. 39) that began stormily and melted into a graceful but assertive account of the choralelike central section, with its layers of sparkling filigree.
And in several waltzes (Op. 64, Nos. 2 and 3, and Op. 34, No. 3), as well as the Mazurka No. 15 (Op. 24, No. 2), which he offered as his first encore, Mr. Goode probed the flexibility of Chopin’s dance rhythms convincingly and affectingly.
Earlier Mr. Goode had lifted the curtain on Schumann’s fantastical inner vision in thoughtfully shaped performances of “Kinderszenen” and “Kreisleriana.” These works describe different universes. In “Kinderszenen” Schumann puts us into a child’s world, and Mr. Goode’s considered phrasing and subtle coloration suited both the painterly surfaces and the frequent temperamental shifts that drive the picturesque miniatures that make up the work.
“Kreisleriana,” inspired by the manic protagonist of an E. T. A. Hoffmann novel, is Schumann at his wildest. Mr. Goode’s charged, fiery account illuminated the work’s inner turmoil mainly by characterizing the demons at the heart of it. It was the kind of reading that explained Clara Schumann’s comment to Schumann before their marriage: “Sometimes your music actually frightens me.”
A version of this review appeared in print on April 28, 2012, on page C4 of the New York edition with the headline: Classics With a Spirit of Improvisation.