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Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Franciscoís Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handelís eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sundayís Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Gramsí inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franckís wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on todayís concert programs, and I canít remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine Ė symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals Ė so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekendís concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuevís high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovskyís big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboaís Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighiís B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIR” QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma Countyís Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
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. Hanís demands. And compounding the poor sonics, the Westminster Presbyterian Churchís 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 Busoniís 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.

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

Mompouís curious Variations on a Theme by Chopin came next, 12 elaborate variations based on Chopinís 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. Mompouís 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 Chopinís 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 Granadosí 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. Itís 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.