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Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
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.