When Walter Hautzig plays the piano, he not only gives you the music of the masters in technical and interpretive detail, he gives you a blueprint of his own personality and color. And whereas some pianists may be preoccupied to the extent of self-effacement with interpreting the composer's intentions, Hautzig is putting his own personal trademark on what he plays.
This individual signature may involve more spirit, more volume, more accent than your own taste dictates. But by the end of an evening with Hautzig, you know you have shared his own vigorous, vivid approach to music and his special, original insights - insights that are mature and well reasoned to him.And just as the varied landscape of the piano repertoire is big enough to absorb many viewpoints, Hautzig's program was wide-ranging enough to give many slants on his artistry.
The left hand may be a dreamer, but Hautzig's right hand was a dispenser of majesty and dignity in the noble melody from Gluck's "Orfeo" with which he opened, as each note sang with an invitation to serenity and repose.
In Hautzig's hands, the Wanderer of Schubert's Fantasy in D Major is no poet pensively roaming summer meadows, but a lusty lad bent on bravado adventure.
His Allegro con fuoco was heavy on the fiery aspects, rising to many miniclimaxes of percussive and even wiry vitality. The art song melody was never far distant, set forth directly in the Adagio and haunting the entire piece as the artist traversed its rhapsodic byways with considerable Schubertian esprit. However, one did sometimes feel a little battered by many heavyhanded climaxes.
Nonetheless, the artist was a model of urbane gemutlichkeit in discussing Schubert's waltzes, 12 of which he played in a little medley of grace and fluency, sometimes lapsing into the bravura of the grand ballroom, that indicated where the Vienna of the Strausses had its source.
After so much authority and vigor, Hautzig surprised his audience with a Chopin Nocturne (in B-flat minor, Op. 9, No.1) of gentle charm, beautifully nuanced in a freely-flowing style too seldom encountered nowadays. Again the melody sang sweetly, as Chopin's characteristic ornamentations and cadenzas cascaded with liquid purity.
In two Chopin mazurkas he stressed the marked rhythms, with an interesting way of almost withdrawing, then surging into the accents at the last possible moment.
Dance rhythms again figured prominently as Hautzig turned to music of his friend Alberto Ginastera, music in which his preferences for percussive vitality find a natural habitat.
Each piece well described the nature of its subject - "Dance of the Old Herdsman" simulating the jerky walk of one inured to hard labor; "Dance of the Charming Girl" filled with langorous grace in a seductive 4/4 rhythm; and "Dance of the Crooked Cowboy" dominated by the rhythm of pounding hooves, romping on the Argentine pampas.
In the Treasure Waltz, a medley from Strauss's "Gypsy Baron" arranged by Dohnanyi, Hautzig did not restrain his own hot blood, giving full rein to the spirited Magyar melodies that dominate this piece.