Yeol Eum Son, a young Korean pianist, began her recital with a blast from the past: Weber’s Invitation to the Dance. It was once a staple, both in the original piano version and in the orchestral version by Berlioz. But then it fell out of favor, deemed too Romantic, not brainy enough—you know how it goes. Son did not play the Invitation in its original form; she did something worse, or better. She played it in the arrangement by Carl Tausig, the nineteenth-century virtuoso. Doubly old-fashioned, even subversive! Not long ago, music’s Stasi would have clapped her in a dungeon. The atmosphere is more relaxed and tolerant today, though not entirely so.

Son played at the International Keyboard Institute & Festival, held each summer at “Mannes College The New School for Music.” That has to be the most awkward name in Christendom. Some of us still refer to the conservatory by its old name, the...

 
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