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Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
RECITAL REVIEW

Pianist Yoonjung Han

PIANIST YOONJUNG HAN OVERCOMES MUSICAL OBSTACLES IN MARIN THURSDAY CLUB RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 19, 2012

Virtuoso Korean pianist Yoonjung Han had tough barriers to surmount in her Jan. 19 Tiburon recital. Plying a repeat date for the Thursday Marin Musical Club after a 2011 recital had been cancelled, the Curtis Institute-trained pianist found an audience of 60 eager to hear her program, but was confronted with a sub professional piano wholly inadequate for her artistry. Additionally, the instrument reportedly had no pre-concert preparation and was unable to effectively respond to Ms. Han’s demands. And compounding the poor sonics, the Westminster Presbyterian Church’s heating system added loud fan and equipment noise to the music.

Well, an artist forges on, and Ms. Han did so with aplomb and poise. Beginning with Busoni’s iconic transcription of the Bach Chaconne in D Minor, S. 1004, she managed the technical challenges of the music despite the instrumental limitations. The octave playing was often fierce, the march sections played fast and the chorale sections stately. There was a lack of clarity above a mezzo forte due to the muddy bass of the piano but nevertheless the artist managed to produce a powerful sound.

Godowsky’s seductive transcription of the Albeniz Tango from España, Op. 165, No. 2, received a more forceful and loud performance than usually heard, but its rhythmic charm and legato was palpable. Liszt’s La Campanella, the third of Liszt’s six Paganini Etudes, lacked subtlety and the last ounce of speed, but Ms. Han’s encompassing technique still sparkled with clear scale passages and crystalline trills. The same composer’s En Reve was omitted from the program.

Mompou’s curious Variations on a Theme by Chopin came next, 12 elaborate variations based on Chopin’s Prelude in A. It's curious because most sets of piano variations have lots of contrasts with fast-slow sections, wide stretching of the theme and such. Mompou’s work from 1961 has nearly the same texture, tempos and harmonies throughout. The third variation is for the left hand alone and there was a cherry nod to Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu in the sixth Variation. Ms. Han played the Mompou very well, in no rush to get anywhere, and the audience provided loud applause.

Without an intermission, the concert concluded with two extended works from Granados’ magisterial Goyescas Suite. Los Requiebros (flattery) was played improvisationally with lovely colors and a strong double-note technique. The last left-hand chord was rolled, a deft effect. The more extended El Amor y a Muerte (love and death) was broadly conceived by Ms. Han, her affinity with the shifting hues of the grandiose Spanish idiom was exact. The long moody and even menacing introductory section was wonderfullY performed and the artist underscored throughout the modulations and meandering character, including a forceful coda. It’s a difficult piece to interpret but the pianist played with smoldering emotion and convincing authority.

There was no encore offered to substantial applause, and the reviewer had the feeling that the artist wanted to be quickly rid of the recalcitrant instrument and simply meet her appreciative audience at the Club's traditional post concert tea and dessert.

Elenor Barcsak and Kenn Gartner contributed to this review.