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Chamber
STYLISH HAYDN QUARTETS CLOSE GREEN ROOM SERIES
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Completing the Green Music Center’s spring series series of “Green Room” virtual concerts, the St. Lawrence String Quartet played May 9 a lightweight program of two Haydn works. Lightweight perhaps, but in every way satisfying. The G Major Quartet (Op. 76, No.1) began the music that was supplement...
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...
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.