Music: Major Pianist

The man at the keyboard was a musician, all right—but was he a topflight pianist? The question agitated most Manhattan critics last week, but it failed to disturb the crowd that thronged Town Hall to hear an eagerly awaited debut. Regardless of critical quibbles, Germany's 47-year-old Hans Richter-Haaser clearly proved to be one of the biggest keyboard talents to hit Manhattan in years.

The agitation about Richter-Haaser stemmed from an old argument: Should a pianist try for note-perfect accuracy, as most U.S. pianists do, or should he try, in Artur Rubinstein's phrase, to "pull the listener in by the hair," letting the...

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