Music: Poet of the Piano

With Rubinstein, Horowitz and Richter still around, this is not exactly a poor age for the piano. But no need to fear the historians' old canard about each epoch of artistic plenty being followed by drought. The best of today's pianists are already being pressed by some younger challengers, among them Vladimir Ashkenazy, 38, the Russian-born star who now lives in Iceland, and Italy's Maurizio Pollini, 34. They, in turn, have to look over their shoulders at even younger contenders.

One of them comes from—why not?

—The Bronx. He is Murray Perahia, 29, a slight,...

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