Dallas — Another house concert series has begun in Dallas with the advent of Key Street Concerts, hosted in the University Park home of Regan Smith and Carol Leone. This series, so far consisting of piano recitals, on Oct. 23 featured Italian pianist Domenico Codispoti.
Codispoti performed a symmetrical recital: one brief work or set of works apiece by Bach, Schumann, Chopin, and Rachmaninoff, then a break for applause, then the same pattern again, beginning once more with Bach. Only his encore, by Poulenc, was a deviation from the pattern.
He explained that this was a performance of pieces he might customarily play as encores, a sort of potpourri.
The format, with only the two breaks for applause, was an interesting one, as were the works themselves. None was especially flashy or full of technical bravado. Instead, lyricism was the watchword, as Codispoti demonstrated his interpretive skill in works from the Baroque to the high Romantic periods.
Codispoti’s Bach, for those who don’t mind their Bach on a contemporary piano, was lovely. In the Allemande from the French Suite in C Minor, as well as the Prelude in E flat minor from the Well-Tempered Clavier Vol. 1, Codispoti’s touch was light but sure. He embraced the character of Bach effectively enough that for a moment I thought I would surely hear some Glenn Gouldian humming.
His interpretation of Romantic style was no less sure. In Schumann’s Arabeske Op. 18, he showed us both sides of Schumann’s temperament: the passionate Florestan and the introspective Eusebius, with moments of playfulness and of melancholy. Schumann’s Romance Op. 28 No. 2 showed the gentler, more hopeful side of Schumann’s temperament and his music. Codispoti clearly distinguished these two moods.
His Chopin was similarly thoughtful. In four Preludes from Op. 28 and four Mazurkas from Op. 30, Codispoti’s phrasing was sensitive and what I can only describe as loving, but with a big, robust sound when called for. Smith and Leone’s 9’2” Fazioli piano readily adapted to whatever Codispoti could dish out, from the softest pianissimos to the loudest fortissimos.
The only time Codispoti’s sound was almost overpowering in the intimate space of a private home was in the two Rachmaninoff Ètudes-Tableaux Op. 39 No. 2 and 8. Still, the sensitivity in the final phrases of Ètude No. 2 was remarkable, and the two Preludes he performed at the end of the program, Op. 23 No. 6 and 4 were suitably gentle.
The only thing missing from this fine program was a display of technical flash and finesse. While Codispoti was nearly note-perfect in more lyrical selections, it would have been nice to hear what fireworks he is capable of, at least in the encore.