“Alexandra Mascolo-David is a splendid pianist—refined, searching and expressive, and her playing is loaded with insight and interpretive detail. Plus, for her recital Tuesday at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, she arrived with little-known musical gems on her program. The concert was tied to the Corcoran exhibit “At the Edge: A Portuguese Futurist — Amadeo de Souza Cardoso.” Mascolo-David connected the painter with a composer by opening with the “Petite suite” by António Fragoso, who, like his countryman and contemporary Souza Cardoso, lived in Paris, dabbled in modernist-art trends, and died young. Fragoso’s wasn’t an original voice, but he was fluid in an impressionistic style of gently rolling waves and foggy atmospherics. The last movement from the “Petite suite” is a dance in three, which Mascolo-David built to a powerful climax; it seemed a glimpse into a more concrete and emotionally stable world.
That three-beat-per-measure lilt was Mascolo-David’s segue to a world unfamiliar to most listeners, two sets of highly original, idiosyncratic waltzes by Francisco Mignone, a wildly productive Brazilian composer who died in 1986. The 10 waltzes on her program had an Italianate smooth lyricism coupled with hints of a Latin pulse, an improvisatory feel and wide tolerances for rubato. They ranged in mood from jittery (No. 11) and soothingly soft-focus (No. 12) to assertively sexy (No. 14, almost a habanera) and ebullient (No. 19). Mascolo-David has recorded a CD of Mignone’s complete waltzes, due for release later this year, that should prove revelatory. Small hands didn’t hamper her steamy and nuanced reading of Janacek’s Piano Sonata “From the Street.” And for music by Chopin — the “Berceuse,” Op. 57, and several waltzes and etudes — she drew parallels with both Fragoso and Mignone, and the latter didn’t suffer in comparison.”