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Lucas Debargue is perfect BPO collaborator in Sanders Theatre outing of Liszt's PC no. 2 / the arts fuse

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A pianist of real character and refinement – plus a huge career in Europe – Lucas Debargue was on hand to lend his musicianship to a relatively rare outing of Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto no. 2.

It's hard to argue with the lineup of soloists Benjamin Zander and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) have brought to town this season. Their trend of finding and presenting some of the most striking artists of the day continued Thursday night at Sanders Theatre with the local debut of Lucas Debargue. A pianist of real character and refinement – plus a huge career in Europe – Debargue was on hand to lend his musicianship to a relatively rare outing of Franz Liszt's Piano Concerto no. 2.

Premiered in 1857, the Liszt Second turns the piano concerto genre on its head, cast as it is in a single continuous movement (instead of three or four individual ones) and generally eschewing glittering, bravura displays for something a bit more contemplative (though its technical difficulties remain Herculean).

For this effort, Debargue proved the perfect collaborator. He's a pianist of terrific facility, who's equally comfortable as a chamber musician and no-holds-barred soloist, and his performance on Thursday was strongly directed, as well as precisely articulated and carefully voiced. Indeed, the lightness of Debargue's touch was, at times, astonishing: the opening of the Concerto's short final section, for instance, had a kinetic, elfin quality that simply shimmered.    Photo: Paul Marrotta.

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