Kicking off the first evening concert of the festival, Mark Nuccio played a varied program of standard, jazzy, and lesser-performed works by composers of several different nationalities. Beginning with the Poulenc Sonata, it was clear how deftly Nuccio could portray the changing moods of the piece, and his impressive control of pianissimo phrases floated to the back of the recital hall with a wave of silence across the audience. The power and gravity displayed in the next piece, Jacques Hetu's Nocturne (Lento), lent a nice contrast to the French opener. Prokofiev's Sonata was played with a rhythmic propulsion that sustained the piece's characteristic Russian sounds, and with each subsequent movement, the work gained further momentum to end with a stately and striking last movement.
After intermission, the program traveled to the Spanish sounds of Miguel Yuste. Nuccio's playful rendition of Ingenuidad, Op. 8 was delightful and commenced the second half of the program very nicely. Moving on to the Germanic roots of Berg's Four Pieces, Nuccio had numerous opportunities to shine with his flawless altissimo pianissimo entrances. Wrapping up the concert was the Three Preludes by Gershwin. Always a crowd-pleaser, it was very appropriate to end this global musical tour with these classic American tunes. Once the audience's giggling subsided at at end of the first movement, the schmaltzy opening of the next movement proved that Nuccio was just a comfortable with playing jazz as he was classical. Taking his bows to a standing ovation, Nuccio returned to the stage to play an encore of Scriabin's Op.11 with a smooth and flowing manner. This short, but sweet piece left the audience headed toward the exit doors with smiles.