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Saturday, September 24, 2022
 Recent Reviews
CHAMBER
SURPRISING IVES TRIO AND SONGS AT VMMF'S HANNA CENTER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 24, 2022
Violinist Rachell Ellen Wong
In a recent Valley of the Moon concert review comments were made about repertoire that reflected summer at a festival – lighter weight music, much informality. The July 24 concert in the Hanna Boys Center appeared on paper to have muscle, and featured the music of Ives. Remarkably, though the idio...
CHAMBER
SEMINAL SCHUBERT CYCLE PERFORMANCE FROM STEGALL-ZIVIAN AT VMMF
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, July 23, 2022
Tenor Kyle Stegall
It was a much cooler concert July 23, starting the second weekend of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival's three-week run, and easier on the performers, audience and instruments alike. The afternoon opened with Beethoven's 1801 curtain-warmer 7 Variations on "Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen" ("...
OPERA
MARIN'S STRIPPED-DOWN OPERA CHARMS
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 17, 2022
V. Osinski P. Smith S. Demirmen (P. Wickware photo)
Stripped to the bone but rich with flavor, Contemporary Opera Marin’s program “It’s All About Mozart,” presented July 17 in the College of Marin’s James Dunn Theater, was positively alchemical. Two works for chamber opera ensemble were performed by four soloists, nine choristers and an orchestra of ...
CHAMBER
MOZART AND BRAHMS AN AUSPICIOUS COUPLE AT VMMF FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 17, 2022
S. Van Embden E. Zivian E. Hoeprich
Is there such a thing as summer music? Something lighter than heard in the winter season, with much informality? The Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival specializes in this approach, and July 17 presented a concert in Sonoma Valley’s Hanna Center that even produced lightweight Brahms. Befor...
CHAMBER
CLARINIST HOEPRICH'S VIRTUOSITY IN VMMF OPENING CONCERT
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, July 16, 2022
Clarinetist Eric Hoeprich
Beautiful sounds filled the hot July 16 air at the Hanna Boys Center in Sonoma Valley, as a nearly full crowd braved the late afternoon heat (95 in the shade) to enjoy some early Romantic Kammermusik and a glass of wine at an al fresco reception. The back wall doors of the hall were opened and bench...
RECITAL
AGGRESSIVE PIANISM IN MYER'S MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 14, 2022
Spencer Myer July 14 in Preston Hall
Indiana-based pianist Spencer Myer has been a welcome Mendocino Music Festival performer since 2010, and he renewed his personal connection with North Coast piano buffs July 14 in a short recital in Mendocino’s Preston Hall. The afternoon was a mixed success, with Beethoven’s E Minor Sonata (Op. 90...
OPERA
SONOROUS WAGNER GALA AND CAPACITY CROWD AT VALLEJO'S EMPRESS
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, July 9, 2022
O. Graham N. Armstrong T. Conlin July 9 in Vallejo
Opera galas in the San Francisco Bay Area are a rare occurrence, and an all-Wagner gala even more so. Therefore it’s a pleasure to report that the Vallejo Center for the Arts produced an exciting all-Wagner concert July 9 in Vallejo's charming Empress Theater. There was a near capacity and very happ...
CHORAL AND VOCAL
TRAVELING CHORISTERS SO CO DEBUT IN TWO BIG CANTATAS
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 25, 2022
Conductor Katherine FitzGibbons
Berkshire Choral International (BCI) is a travel-loving chorister's dream. Drawing its membership nationwide, it is headquartered in the Western Massachusetts Berkshires region and travels to destinations for a week of rehearsals, sightseeing, and performing. What makes this group different however,...
OPERA
VERDI'S THEATRICAL LA TRAVIATA TRIUMPHS AT CINNABAR
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Michelle Drever and Sergio Gonzalez in La Traviata
In years gone by Petaluma’s venerable Cinnabar Theater mounted two complete operas each season, but in COVID times alas it’s just one. But in this June’s run of six of Verdi’s La Traviata one was surely enough, if it was really good, and the June 19 performance was in every way splendid. As with ...
SYMPHONY
CLOUDS AND PASSION: MARIN SYMPHONY'S STELLAR CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Pianist Joyce Yang June 19 in Marin
A wide contrast of era and mood characterized the first half of Marin Symphony’s stellar June 19 program in the Marin Center, opening with Jennifer Higdon’s transparent, cloud-light tone poem, blue cathedral, and ending with Stravinsky’s clashing, crashing Symphony in Three Movements. Conductor Al...
Local Concerts  
RECITAL REVIEW
Steinway Society / Sunday, September 18, 2022
Yunchan Lim, piano

Pianist Yunchan Lim (A. Wasserman Photo)

HEROIC LIM PERFORMANCE AT STEINWAY SOCIETY RECITAL

by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, September 18, 2022

The audience in San Jose’s Montgomery Theater October 18 were clearly fans, for when 2022 Cliburn gold medalist Yunchan Lim walked on stage he was greeted with a roar of applause, cheers and whistles. But the moment he sat to play, the capacity crowd settled into profound quiet. During the long program of Brahms, Mendelssohn and Liszt, sponsored by the Steinway Society of the Bay Area, there were no audible coughs, no throat-clearing, no shuffling in seats, and no bursts of spontaneous applause to interrupt the music’s flow.

South Korean-born Mr. Lim, who at eighteen demonstrates impressive musical maturity, wove a musical spell with beautiful tone, exquisite voicing, great technical virtuosity and an uncanny ability to capture the spirit of each composer.

Brahms’ four Op. 10 Ballades began the recital. His immediate inspiration for the 1854 works was a collection of Scottish folk ballads, and the composer organized the pieces into two pairs in parallel keys. Scholars have suggested that because of their close affinity they are essentially a sonata of four movements. The first, in D minor (Andante), is a tragic narrative, and Brahms writes plaintive triad chords in the right hand and open fifths in the left. Musical questions and answers recur in nuanced variations. The pianist’s interpretation achieved great tension through masterful use of rubato and micro-moments of silence that, like held breath, made the music’s harmonies and inner voices more dramatic.

The second, in D major begins tenderly and ascends momentarily to a heavenly realm. A second theme, march-like and inexorable, breaks the mood. There are eloquent inner voices in the left hand that oppose soft broken chords in the right, leading to a mournful close. The third Ballade in B minor is a disturbing scherzo, ending with shimmering arpeggios. The last, in B major, featured whispered arpeggios and hushed harmonic dissonances. Yearning and sadness dominated in equal measure. Again, Mr. Lim’s chordal voicing was beautiful.

The artist then performed Mendelssohn’s Fantasy in F-sharp Minor (“Scottish Sonata”), Op. 28. The form of this work appears to have been inspired by Beethoven’s “Moonlight” sonata and like it, the first and third
movements are set in a minor key.

The first movement, con moto agitato, opens with a low, pedaled F sharp, from which a rippling arpeggio rises, the first of several glissando passages that mark divisions in the movement. A chorale-like theme, simple and elegant but weighted with melancholy, enters; it will be repeated again with small differences. The mood intensifies, arpeggios become more chromatic, and a turbulent section ensues. A tiny fugue is followed by another glassy run up and down the keyboard and a stripped-down reprise of the theme. The movement ends where it began, on a somber low, pedaled F-sharp. Mr. Lim’s interpretation created suspense throughout, capturing turbulent Mendelssohnian drama.

The charming second movement (Allegro con moto), in 2/4 time, was played with strong rhythms and created a bright respite between the deep and passionate movements that preceded and followed it. The finale movement was performed at breakneck speed but with nuanced voicing, precise articulation and skillful pedaling that created a clarion and thrilling conclusion to the work.

In the second half, Mr. Lim performed three bravura works by Liszt: St. François d’Assise: La Prédication aux oiseaux, S. 175/1; St. François de Paule: marchant sur les flots, S. 175/2, both from the 1863 Deux Légendes; and Après une lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata, S. 161/7. Both Légendes are set in A major, and the first is based on a Giotto fresco portraying the patron saint of animals preaching God’s message to a flock of birds. Mr. Lim’s lovely trills, singing arpeggios and pizzicato chirps brought the birds to exuberant life and a resonant tenor theme intoned the saint’s message to the birds.

In the companion piece, St. Francis Walking on the Waves, Mr. Lim shifted his musical mood entirely, and his playing brilliantly evoked a resonant tenor voice that intoned the Légend’s evocation of churning water, howling wind, racing clouds and a wild journey.

The D Minor Dante Sonata found the artist playing descending double notes as the chords rose, and in slow ascending passages the angelic sounds of this music were captured by Mr. Lim’s virtuosity and focus on the increasing unease that was signaled by passionate rumbling in the bass. A single bass note was answered by harp-like, rippling octave playing. It was a finely textured performance, revealing the orchestral richness in the music.

At the conclusion the audience erupted in an ovation, standing through three curtain calls, until Mr. Lim performed his first encore, the lovely Siciliano, transcribed by Ignaz Friedman from C.P.E. Bach’s Flute Sonata. Its transparent beauty was played to perfection. After four more curtain calls, the artist seemed to hide a shy smile behind his hand (belying the impression that he’s always serious), and performed Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9, no. 2 - unadorned, graceful, tranquil and clear as fine glass. It was a perfect benediction.

Although scores of fans gathered in the lobby hoping to see Mr. Lim, there was no reception, and it took many minutes for disappointed fans to disperse.



Events Calendar

SYMPHONY
Santa Rosa Symphony
Saturday, October 1, 2022
7:30 PM - Rohnert Park
Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor. Awadagin Pratt, piano
Beethoven: Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus; Mozart: Concerto in A Major, K. 488; Angélica Negrón: Me He Perdido; Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique...
Details

SYMPHONY
Sonoma County Philharmonic
Saturday, October 1, 2022
7:30 PM - Santa Rosa
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Daron Hagen, flügelhorn
Still: Sym phony No. 1; Hagen: Concerto for Flügelhorn; Gershwin: An American in Paris Tickets are $15...
Details

SYMPHONY
Santa Rosa Symphony
Sunday, October 2, 2022
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor. Awadagin Pratt, piano
Mozart: Concerto in A Major, K. 488; Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique; Beethoven: Overture to the Creatures of Promethius; Angélica Negrón: Me he Perdido...
Details

SYMPHONY
Sonoma County Philharmonic
Sunday, October 2, 2022
2:00 PM - Santa Rosa
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Daron Hagen, flügelhorn
Still: Symphony No. 1; Gershwin: An American in Paris: Hagen: Concerto for Flügelhorn...
Details

CHAMBER
Chamber Music Marin
Sunday, October 2, 2022
5:00 PM - Mill Valley
Yuko Tanaka and Janine Johnson, harpsichord; string players from the Philharmonic Baroque and other
Bach: four harpsichord concertos...
Details

SYMPHONY
Ukiah Symphony
Sunday, October 2, 2022
2:00 PM - Ukiah
Phillip Lenberg, conductor. Paul Yarbrough, viola; Stephen Zielinski, clarinet
Ponce: Nocturno; Bruch: Concerto for Viola and Clarinet; Strauss: Serenade for 13 Wind Instruments; Dvorak: Czech Suite Tickets are $10 - $30...
Details

SYMPHONY
Santa Rosa Symphony
Monday, October 3, 2022
7:30 PM - Rohnert Park
Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor. Awadagin Pratt, piano
Angélica Negrón: Me He Perdido; Beethoven: Overture to the Creatures of Promethius; Mozart: A Major Concerto, K. 488; Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique...
Details

CHORAL AND VOCAL
Cantiamo Sonoma
Sunday, October 9, 2022
2:00 PM - Santa Rosa
Carol Menke, director
Music of Giaches de Wert, Palestrina, Kim André Arneson, Sweelinck, Kevin Siegfried, Andrej Makor, Moses Hogan, Eriks Esenvalds No admission charge, and donations are requested...
Details

CHAMBER
Occidental Center for the Arts
Sunday, October 9, 2022
4:00 PM - Occidental
Carol Anne Bosco, cello; Abby Gabrielson, piano
Program TBA Admission: adults, $25; OCA members $20...
Details

CHAMBER
Redwood Arts Council
Saturday, October 15, 2022
7:00 PM - Sebastopol
Heath Quartet
Ravel: Quartet; Haydn: Quartet, Op. 230, No. 5; Fanny Mendelssohn: Quartet...
Details