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Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
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...
RECITAL REVIEW

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.