April 5 2009
By Jay Harvey
Concert pianists who dazzle almost from the moment they sit down at the keyboard are not as rare as you might think. Kirkendoll (the other concerto performer Saturday) adds to that electrifying quality superior intelligence, good taste, a deep sound and variety of attack -- all of which John Corigliano's Piano Concerto insists on. What seem like punishing assaults on the keyboard are set in a hyperromantic context in a score that's also extravagantly picturesque.
Kirkendoll's pinpoint rhythm made especially delightful several passages in which the piano is paired with percussion. The contemporary American composer brings into play aspects of Gershwin and Bernstein in the second movement, and in the finale tucks some wistfully gentle phrases into its roaring center.