Mitsuko Uchida | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Mitsuko Uchida

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About to make her Carnegie Hall debut at age 44, the Japanese-born pianist Mitsuko Uchida will try out the introduction program here first. Daughter of a diplomat, Uchida grew up and received most of her musical training in Vienna. An insightful and precise keyboard interpreter, she's been an unaccountably late bloomer as an international concert artist. Her reputation only began to spread ten years ago, after a series of recitals she gave in London traversing the entire cycle of Mozart sonatas. Since then her recordings of those sonatas and all of Mozart's concerti have heightened her allure. I'm of two minds about her approach to Mozart. At times she tends to prettify or solemnize the music; on the other hand, she always shows a firm grasp of its structural underpinnings--a trait not yet cultivated by many of her younger colleagues. Uchida has of late been broadening her musical horizons. Mozart is not on this program, but her self-professed affinity for Teutonic transcendentalism clearly dictated the selections, which are all near-masterpieces by mostly Viennese composers. They are, in order: Beethoven's Sonata no. 27; Schubert's sublime Sonata no. 18 in G; Schumann's Carnaval, a perky romp familiar to most piano students; and Webern's epigrammatic Variations. The Schubert and Webern pieces, in particular, require uncommon mental concentration, and they ought to elicit one of Uchida's striking stage mannerisms--the rapturous, oblivious look that turns her face into an elegant No mask. Sunday, 3 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 242-6237 or 435-6666.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Christian Steiner.

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