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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
Mendocino Music Festival / Thursday, July 16, 2015
Ching-Yun Hu, piano

Pianist Ching-Yun Hu

ELEGANT SCRIABIN, CHOPIN AND GRANADOS IN MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 16, 2015

Taiwanese pianist Ching-Yun Hu made a formidable Mendocino Music Festival debut recital July 16 in Mendocino’s Preston Hall.

A full house warmly greeted the diminutive artist, and she responded with a pensive and then dramatic performance of Scriabin’s Sonata Fantasy, Op. 19. Writers refer to this work as related to the sea, appropriate to this venue where at intervals the distant surf can be heard. This year is the 100th anniversary of Scriabin’s death, and the G-Sharp Minor Sonata has become, with the exception of the composer’s Fifth Sonata, the most often played.

Ms. Hu deftly combined the concentrated lyricism of the first part with the stormy flights in the second Presto part. And she didn’t stint on damper pedal use, and the music needs a lot. The house piano, adequate if not exceptional, is voiced warmly rather than brightly. This added to the richness of the tone but in legato passages produced muddy scales.

Ms. Hu’s announced to the audience that Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke (D. 946) was a personal favorite, and these three works from the composer’s last year closed the first half with diverse effects. The opening E-Flat Minor was played loudly with many telling repeated chords, putting the soft lyric song of the second E-Flat Major piece into sharp relief. Ms. Hu played it simply and with elegance. The artist highlighted the syncopations and harmonies of the final piece in C Major.

Four Chopin works comprised the second half with the afternoon’s best playing coming in the shortest work, the E Flat Nocturne of Op. 55, No. 2. Rhythmic subtlety approaching Ignaz Friedman’s iconic 1936 recording was a delight (praise can go no higher), as was Ms. Hu’s command of pianissimo. The repeated right-hand A and B Flat notes had a character of bells, and she artfully pedaled the ethereal transition to the final two chords that held me spellbound.

The Barcarolle and the E Major Scherzo received workmanlike readings that uniquely in the recital had inner voices, half-pedaled fast ascending scales, and at the return of the big theme in the Scherzo a delicate ritard that almost broke the musical thread. Almost. The tempos in both works were on the fast side and Ms. Hu seemed most comfortable when the music called for performing fast running passages in both hands, as it was in the interpretation of Chopin’s early bravura E Flat Rondo, Op. 16.

One encore was offered, Granados’ Spanish Dance No. 2, “Oriental.” It was played languorously, though not slow, and was bewitching in well under five minutes with a luxurious sonority and tranquil ending that kept the audience hushed for many seconds before applause.