Richard Goode: Richard the Great
by Leticia Marie Sanchez
Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of New York: Richard Goode, Richard the Great. Audiences at the Walt Disney Concert Hall attending his January 19 recital were bathed in the purity of Bach, the sweetness of Haydn, the pathos of Schumann, but, thankfully not in the tempest of the Los Angeles thunderstorms outside.
The award-winning Mr. Goode holds the distinction of being the first American-born pianist to have recorded the complete Beethoven Sonatas. His numerous honors include: the Avery Fisher Prize, Yale University’s Sanford Medal, and a Grammy award.
Goode’s thematically unified program showcased a study in contrasts. He opened the program with two pieces from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II. The haunting, melancholy Prelude and Fugue in F-Sharp minor, BWV 883, with its tripartite texture, served as a foil to the blithe Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV 884, evoking the twirling of a leaf before it alights on the ground. Goode’s graceful touch also brought to life three works by Joseph Haydn: Sonata in E Major, Hob. XVI: 22, Sonata in B Minor, Hob. XVI: 32, and Sonata C Major, Hob. XVI: 50. In the recital’s program notes, written by Mr. Goode himself, he cleverly dubbed Sonata in B minor “the Bear” due to the “lumbering bass figure” and the “repeated crowded growls” in the bass. Goode’s nuanced interpretation makes the abstract concrete. He inspires his audience to visualize narratives, whether it be a floating leaf, a growling bear, or, the literary Kapellmeister, Johannes Kreisler, in Schumann’s Kreisleriana, Op. 16. The night’s theme of juxtapositions continues in Schumann’s work, which alternates between storms and stillness. The sharp contrast calls two mind Schumann’s dual fictional alter egos, the impetuous Florestan and the introspective Eusebius. Goode veered into the emotional edge of Kreisleriana, eliciting the reckless abandon associated with the brilliant Kreisler. Goode plumbs the depths of each work, presenting anew the genesis of each peace, its structural and psychological underpinnings, all while unearthing each note afresh. He unveils each color, shadow, and shade in an infinite palette.
After his masterful performance, Mr. Goode received continuous applause. He generously sat down to several transcendent encores. His first encore, a tenderly rendered Chopin Nocturne, coincides with the bicentennial of the artist’s birth. The audience begged for more. Thunderous claps were hushed as Mr. Goode offered yet another intimate, sacred, revelatory performance. It was as though the audience were hearing each piece for the first time. More, more, more; they beg for a third encore, and the indefatigable Mr. Goode enveloped the city of angels in a mid-winter’s night dream.
The glistening lights of the city, after a thunderstorm.
Richard Goode Recital. Walt Disney Concert Hall.
PHOTO:© Leticia Marie Sanchez