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Recital
DYNAMIC PIANISM IN YAKUSHEV MARIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev arrived Jan. 23 at his Mill Valley Chamber Music Society recital with the repute of playing loud and fast and delivering charming introductory musical remarks to his audience. He was true to form in Mill Valley’s Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church, preceding Haydn’s sple
Symphony
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 9, 2022
The Jan. 9 Santa Rosa Symphony concert was supposed to feature the world premiere of Gabriella Smith’s first symphony, but it ended up featuring another type of premiere: a concert that was conceived, rehearsed and performed in less than eight hours. Symphony staff learned on Sunday morning that so
Choral and Vocal
AN OLD FRIEND RETURNS TO WEILL IN STERLING ABS MESSIAH PERFORMANCE
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, December 19, 2021
A tremendous accomplishment by the American Bach Soloists Dec. 19 was near perfect performance of Handel's Messiah in Weill Hall. Long an annual tradition at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, the ABS took to the road and delivered a Christmas gift of epic proportions to an obviously thrilled and enth
Symphony
SHOSTAKOVICH FIFTH THUNDERS AT WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 5, 2021
In a new season marketed as “Classical Reunion,” the Santa Rosa Symphony made a palpable connection with its audience at the early December set of three standing ovation concerts in Weill Hall. The December 5 concert, with 1,000 attending, is reviewed here. Vaughan Williams’ popular Fantasia on a T
Chamber
THE LINCOLN RETURNS WITH CLARKE'S PUNGENT TRIO
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, November 18, 2021
There were many familiar faces Nov. 18 during Music at Oakmont’s initial concert of the season, but perhaps the most necessary were the three musicians of the Lincoln Piano Trio, the Chicago-based group that has performed often in Oakmont since 2006. A smaller than unusual audience in Berger Audito
Symphony
NOSTALGIC BARBER KNOXVILLE AT SO CO PHIL JACKSON THEATER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
In their first Jackson Theater appearance of the new season the Sonoma County Philharmonic presented Nov. 14 a program devoid of novelty, but showcasing the “People’s Orchestra” in splendid performance condition after a long COVID-related layoff. Conductor Norman Gamboa drew a committed and boister
Chamber
THRILLING PIANO QUINTETS IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 14, 2021
The Mill Valley Chamber Music Society sprang back to life on November 14 when a stellar ensemble from the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based collective, arrived to perform two piano quintets: Vaughn-Williams’ in C Minor (1903), little known and rarely performed; and Schubert’s in A Major D.
Chamber
MUSCULAR BRAHMS FROM IVES COLLECTIVE IN GLASER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Leaving SRJC’s Newman Auditorium for the first time in decades, the College’s Chamber Concert Series presented a season-opening concert Nov. 14 in Santa Rosa’s Glaser Center with the four-musician Bay-Area based Ives Collective. The season, the first given since 2020, is dedicated to Series Founder
Symphony
MONUMENTAL BRAHMS SYMPHONY HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY RETURN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 7, 2021
In the waning COVID pandemic the Marin Symphony is one of the last Bay Area orchestras to return to the stage, and they did with considerable fanfare Nov. 7 before 1,200 in Civic Center Auditorium, with resident conductor Alasdair Neale leading a demanding concert of Brahms, Schumann and New York-ba
Symphony
APOLLO'S FIRE LIGHTS UP VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Long ago the Canadian violin virtuoso Gil Shaham played a program in Weill Hall of solo Bach, with a visual backdrop of slowly developing visuals, such as a pokey flower opening over four minutes. The Bach was sensational, and some in the audience liked the photos but many found them disconcerting,
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.