The Fresno Bee
Tuesday, November 23, 1999

Pianist Eduardus Halim's distinct technique dazzles at Fresno State

By George Warren, to the Bee

Eduardus Halim, the young former student of Horowitz, dazzled the senses of the audience in his appearance at California State University, Fresno, Friday, as the latest guest of the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concert series.

Halim's bouncing gait carried him to the piano where he sat, adjusted the bench, measured his distance to the keyboard, meditated for a few seconds, then gently began an all-Chopin set that included Nocturnes Op. 48 No. 1 and 55 No. 2, Mazurkas Op. 6 No. 2, Op. 7 No. 3, Op. 24 No. 2, Op. 41 No. 1, Op. 50 No. 3, and Polonaises Op. 26 No. 2, and 44.  The second half of the concert featured an all-Granados set with "Valses Poeticos," three pieces from "Goyescas, Part 1" – "Los requiebros," "El fandango de candil" and "Quejas o la maja y el ruisenor" – and "El Pelele."

Evidence of Horowitz's effect on Halim lay in the expression and energy of the playing, not in the technique.  One notices the fingers first, before any other visual aspect of his presentation.  He has extremely long fingers that caress, flick, pound and otherwise coax sound from the piano.  One seldom sees the fingers move the way Halim moved his, and the music he creates justifies the strange-looking technique.

The concert began with the Nocturne in C sharp Minor, Op. 48 No. 1.  Halim began the quiet introduction with a grace that defied the violence of a hammer hitting a string.  The tone sounded more like he bowed the string, creating a sound not ordinarily associated with the piano.  He used this effect throughout the concert like a magician using a wand.

Halim grouped the Mazurkas, delightful little folk dances, into a single set with no break.  At the end of five Mazurkas, however, even the pianist appeared disinterested in the music.

The he lit into the last work of the Chopin set, the Polonaise in F sharp Minor, Op. 44.  This work features scales and arpeggios in octaves at rapid tempos.  Halim pushed the tempo to the extreme, bringing off impossible passages with amazing accuracy.  The grace of the opening work gave way to breathtaking bravura, and the pianist retired to the intermission as a hero.

Enrique Granados lived most of his life in Spain, but his primary influences were Grieg, Schumann and Liszt.  These influences were apparent in the Valses Poeticos, which had few clues that the composer was Spanish.  The pieces had some interesting harmonies and melodies and provided a refreshing relief to the all-Chopin set.

Goyescas, perhaps Granados' most famous  work, has six pieces that depict paintings by Goya.  Of the three that he played, the most enjoyable was "El fandango de candil," which he played with good humor and rhythmic vitality.

"El Pelele" followed the Goyescas and ended the set with less than the usual drama one expects at the end of a concert.  Over time, however, the audience rose to its feet, and Halim took the cue to play an encore, which turned out to be the most enjoyable piece of the evening.

He played "Caprice Espanol" by Moritz Moszkowski and tore into it like a child at Christmas.  Here, for the first time, Halim displayed his true genius.  This appeared to be Halim's signature piece.  He played with such familiarity that one might have mistaken it for his own composition.  The extreme tempos and dynamics came off flawlessly and with great authority.

■  George Warren, Ph.D., teaches music theory part time at California State University, Fresno.