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Chamber
SURPRISING IVES TRIO AND SONGS AT VMMF'S HANNA CENTER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 24, 2022
Chamber
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Opera
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Chamber
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Chamber
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by Pamela Hicks Gailey
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Recital
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Opera
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Choral and Vocal
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Opera
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Symphony
CLOUDS AND PASSION: MARIN SYMPHONY'S STELLAR CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, June 19, 2022
RECITAL REVIEW
Redwood Arts Council / Sunday, May 16, 2021
Ilya Yakushev, piano

Pianist Ilya Yakushev

PIANO VIRTUOSITY IN YAKUSHEV'S REDWOOD ARTS RECITAL

by Nicki Bell
Sunday, May 16, 2021

Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev’s recital for the Redwood Arts Council was perhaps the local season’s virtual music at the greatest distance, as the filming May 16 came from a church in St. Petersburg. And good filming it was, with multiple camera viewpoints of the church, full and split screens and close ups of the performer’s hands and face.

The sound in the opening Beethoven C Minor Sonata (Op. 13 “Pathétique”) was full of color, Mr. Yakushev playing the Grave section with measured clarity and the Allegro pulsing and explosive. The famous Adagio was played with beautifully voiced yearning. In the finale the pianist’s reading had plenty of drive, a powerful interpretation with imaginative phrasing.

Another Beethoven Sonata followed, the even more popular “Moonlight” from Op. 27, and the tempo was gently flowing but never languished. The Allegretto had the requisite dance character, and the concluding Presto Agitato had plenty of fire, opposite of the first movement, and had orchestral sonority combined with surprising clarity.

Chopin’s Op. 38 Ballade No. 2 is played less often than the bucolic third and the seminal G Minor and F Minor, but it is no less a creative triumph. Mr. Yakushev captured the folk–like material at the opening and the wild outbursts that subsequently occur. The range of his playing reflected gentleness, sadness and then sonic anger and furious scales passages fading back into an eerie quiet. It was a Russian specialty performance from the tradition of Anton Rubinstein.

A wide-ranging color and touch characterized the playing in Tchaikovsky’s Dumka, Op. 59, composed in 1886. The village dance piece had ample shimmer and rhythmic interest from Mr. Yakushev’s magical fingers (and feet), and was an emotional highlight of the recital.

The performance concluded with Liszt’s Valée de Obermann, No. 6 in the Swiss Années de Pèlerinage written over the period 1835-1852. The playing reflected all of the composer’s demons and angels, with pianistic simplicity, mystery and pure beauty often exploding into aural fireworks. Double octave accuracy and sparkling trill technique was admirable. This was passionate and brilliant pianism, the artist exploring the full range of his instrument.

Following the 4 a.m. (!) performance Mr. Yakushev answered audience questions in faultless English for the RAC video, accepting a tendered invitation for a personal appearance on the series’ Occidental stage in a future year.

Sonia Tubridy contributed to this review.