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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 Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s 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 Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t 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 – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – 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 weekend’s 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 Matsuev’s 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 Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s 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
Respighi’s 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
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s 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
Santa Rosa Junior College Chamber Concerts / Friday, March 16, 2012
Joyce Yang, piano

Pianist Joyce Yang receiving ovation March 16 at SRJC

MASTERLY RECITAL FROM JOYCE YANG

by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 16, 2012

Pianist Joyce Yang came to her Newman Auditorium recital March 16 with a bevy of extravagant press notices and a contented audience. Why contented before a note was played? The SRJC concert committee provided a lavish reception before, not after, the recital, honoring the annual Randolph Newman recital tradition. So there was a warm and perhaps sedentary glow in the packed hall when Ms Yang stepped to the instrument for the first of four Scarlatti Sonatas.

Each of the Sonatas received an expressive reading, more romantic than classical, with the C Major (K. 132) performed with large dynamic contrasts and alternating clipped phrase endings with extended use of the damper pedal. In the D Minor (K. 9), popular for years in the Tausig version Pastorale and Capriccio, the tempo was deliberate and the articulation clean. In the final two Sonatas, K. 141 and 29, Ms. Yang's exemplary cross-hand technique and ample pedal generated a fleet momentum. Her command of these works was mature and in every way impressive. No repeats were skipped.

Debussy's popular "Estamps" followed with Ms. Yang underscoring the music's atmospheric effects, the shift pedal in constant use and her touch at times heavy, befitting the gong-like bass notes in "Pagodes." Some of these notes were played but didn't sound, at least to my seat in the rear of the hall. Soiree Dans Grenade was fetchingly played, the artist getting habanera effects from the piano with subtle rhythmic variation. The concluding "Jardins sous la Pluie" was played vigorously, the ceaseless triplet 16th notes played with precision. In her spoken remarks Ms. Yang characterized her programs and much of Debussy as a collage, and this performance was a prismatic playing of a masterwork.

Ms. Yang seems to own the Op. 29 Liebermann "Gargoyles," a 1989 four-movement work that appears frequently in piano competitions. She played the opening toccata figurations rapidly and her fluid finger staccato made the digital demands appear easy, as did the following moderato with softly repeated notes in the right hand, richly hued. This movement is reminiscent of the forgotten Walter Niemann’s forgotten Nocturne, shimmering but not note perfect as was nearly the entire recital. The final presto was played with menace and a grand sweep, the big contrary motion skips in both hands accurate and the runs half pedaled.

Anton Rubinstein called Schubert "eternal sunshine in music" and Ms. Yang's lyrical playing of the G-Flat Major Impromptu (Op. 90) had a lovely singing legato line. It began with minimal ritards in the modern vein, then broadened to a line stretching retards at each modulation and thematic entrance. It was a balanced and compelling interpretation.

Concluding the recital were the eight contrasting pieces of Schumann's Op. 12 "Fantasiestücke." Contrast was the operative word and Ms. Yang's consummate pianism captured the composer's illusory and capricious imagination. Especially memorable was how Ms. Yang handled the multiple layers of melodic writing for one hand in the In Der Nacht section, and the control she brought to the explosive Aufschwung.

In response to a vocal ovation the pianist played Earl Wild's transcription of Gershwin's "The Man I Love," originally a song from the 1927 Broadway show Strike Up The Band. Here Ms. Yang brought out delicious counterpoint, swirls of notes and in the final two bars a deft decrescendo in the piano’s high treble. It was an alluring encore that ended a masterly recital.