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RECITAL REVIEW
Music at Oakmont / Thursday, March 10, 2022
Einav Yarden, piano

FORGOTTEN BACH SHINES IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 10, 2022

Berlin-based virtuoso pianist Einav Yarden brought an unfamiliar Bach program to her March 10 Music at Oakmont recital, her fourth appearance on the series, before a nearly capacity crowd in Berger Auditorium.

Bach unfamiliar? Well yes it was, as in addition to Johan Sebastian the artist performed a big chunk of C.P.E. Bach’s work, including two Fantasias, a lovely C Minor Rondo (Wq. 59/4) and a three-movement Sonata in D Major, Wq. 61/2. Known in the Gallant Style period as a performer and scholar, C. P. E.’s works are expressively florid and demand from the pianist impeccable scales and careful balance between the contrapuntal lines.

Ms. Yarden proved to be an adept interpreter, her fluid technique on display in the jovial C Minor Rondo that had whiffs of Scarlatti, and in the C Major Fantasia (Wq 61, No. 6) that featured short repeated motives and a bantamweight ending. It was Haydnesque long before Haydn, and the performance a recital highlight.

Two more C.P.E. works were heard in the first half, the D Major Sonata (Wq 61/2) and the E Flat Major Fantasia, Wq. 58, No. 6. Ms. Yarden preceded the music by overly long and overly technical audience comments, but no matter as both interpretations were first cabin. A crisp and detaché touch gave the Sonata’s Allegro di molto lift, even as the music jumped all over, and scale playing was always clear and Arpeggios expressive. The often episodic runs in the Presto and the following E-Flat Fantasia mirrored waves of sound, never loud, and the music was intriguing and in Ms. Yarden’s hands (and feet) always convincing.

In Bach’s A Minor English Suite (No. 2, BWV 807) the interpretation was perhaps slower than usually heard in this six-movement work, but the light use of pedal and careful small details of shaped trills and arpeggiated chord endings made for a concise whole. The Gigue was always buoyant, an interpretation midway between that of the new Andras Schiff and the old Glenn Gould.

Bach’s masterful Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue was the titular second half work, its organizational freedom captured by Ms. Yarden’s reading of sweep and even warmth. Here more damper pedal was in play, but it never covered the potent shifts of harmonic language in the Fantasy. The three-voice Fugue was played without excess speed but with a cumulative dramatic effect that was palpable, and many in the audience cheered. It was an ideal joining of a composer’s genius with a commanding pianistic performance.

Other works on the program included Peter Eötvös Dance of the Brush-Footed Butterfly, a four and one-half minute mostly high register work with dissonant chords interrupting phrases, and five of Brahms’ seven Op. 116 Fantasies. The playing in the Brahms was aggressive and demanding, softened by the introspective first Intermezzo with delicate right-hand broken octaves, and the quiet march of the Intermezzo in E. Ms. Yarden gave this Intermezzo some of her most tonal beauty of the afternoon, capturing mystery and then just a touch of late night sadness in a long Fermata.