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Recital
ECLECTIC PIANISM IN SPRING LAKE VILLAGE VIRTUAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
During the pandemic The Santa Rosa Symphony’s virtual concerts received their due in performance praise, but another series, Spring Lake Village, more quietly presented monthly virtual concerts to a select local audience. May 5 saw the latest event, produced by impresario Robert Hayden, and feature...
Symphony
SONIC CONTRASTS HIGHLIGHT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SPRING PROGRAM
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 25, 2021
In a curious mixture of compositions, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s penultimate virtual concert of the season April 25 unfolded in ways both highly satisfying and a bit perplexing. Directed by resident Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong, the event followed a familiar format – several contemporary wor...
Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
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....
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.