His concert last night at Goucher College suggested that there are two Alexander Toradzes: one who conquered his instrument in Prokofiev's Sonata No. 7 with blinding prestidigitation and a command of sonority so vast that there were times when one feared for the walls in Kraushaar Auditorium; and one who seduced his instrument in Haydn's Sonata No. 49 with a blend of refinement, delicacy of articulation and imaginative phrasing.
Both Toradzes took one's breath away, and perhaps they were merely the same pianist -- one who found two very different (and extraordinarily satisfying) solutions to two different works. In the Haydn the pianist was able to to create an incredible emotional range within a limited dynamic compass. Without violating the classical dimensions of the piece, the pianist was able to suggest that Beethoven was just around the corner. The central movement was taken at a heroically slow tempo but was perpetually singing. And the finale was a tour de force of witty turns of phrase in which the best was saved for last. The thrice familiar Prokofiev work sounded utterly fresh. Most pianists make the slow movement sound like something written in Tin Pan Alley. But while giving due to the jazz influences upon the piece, Toradze was able to reveal its deeper sources in Russian folk song. As for the corner movements, they were played with demonic fire and transcendental virtuosity.
A third Toradze was revealed after intermission in a performance of the Brahms F minor Quintet with the splendid Chester String Quartet that combined vigor, warmth and spontaneity. This concert, sponsored by Temple Oheb Shalom and the Gordon Trust, was as good as any we will hear this season.