It's always nice to know there are a few constants in life. Richard Goode is one of them.
The pianist closed the 49th season of the Shriver Hall Concert Series in typically patrician form, performing a nicely varied program -- extra points for not stacking the recital with sonatas.
Goode, playing throughout with music in front of him (an indulgence more easily granted to veteran artists than newcomers), got things started Sunday evening with Mozart. The B minor Adagio seems haunted by troubled thoughts, but the pianist did not underline them, letting the music speak with an unforced eloquence.
Beethoven's F-sharp minor Sonata emerged with admirable clarity of articulation and rhythmic spontaneity, not to mention beautifully shaded phrasing.
Goode delved into the eight pieces of Brahms' Op. 76 and extracted their poetry and drama to vivid effect, and did the same in Schumann's bipolar "Humoreske." The latter inspired some of the most gripping pianism of the evening, filled with wonderful nuances of dynamics and compelling turns of phrase.
In the midst of all so much music from the German canon, Debussy's "Children's Corner" proved all the more welcome. This character-rich collection of pieces brought out the best of Goode -- a broad tonal palette with many an exquisite pastel along the way; a keen appreciation for the contour of each melodic turn, each harmonic twist; and, in the concluding "Golliwogg's Cakewalk," terrific elan.