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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
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.