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Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Chamber
THREE BEETHOVEN TRIOS BEGUILE AUDIENCE IN FEB. 19 WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Chamber music concerts featuring one composer can be tricky, but the Han/Setzer/Finckel trio made a Feb. 19 Weill Hall audience of 500 hear and to a degree see the boundless creativity of Beethoven. The G Major Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, opened the afternoon’s Beethoven odyssey and one wonders why it is t...
Chamber
AUTHORITATIVE BARTOK HIGHLIGHTS TETZLAFF VIOLIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Christian Tetzlaff’s Feb. 18 violin recital rolled along with lively and fresh readings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert when the specter of Bartok’s granitic Second Sonata intervened. The sonic shock to the audience of 250 in Weill was palpable. Composed in 1923 the 20-minute two-movement work i...
Symphony
WHAT SOUND DO STAR-CROSSED LOVERS MAKE?
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so the Santa Rosa Symphony feted the occasion by telling and retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet, a tale ever the more poignant during our era of stark divisions. The first telling was from Berlioz; the second from Prokofiev. In between was Brahms’ monu...
Chamber
GOOD OLD WINE IN GOOD OLD BOTTLES AT VOM CONCERT
by Jeff Chan
Saturday, February 11, 2017
February 11 was the first day of sunshine in Sonoma County after nine days of rain, but a nearly full house of music lovers chose to spend their afternoon in Schroeder Hall instead of being outside, soaking up the warm sun. There were two equally compelling reasons to attend this concert, which fea...
Symphony
FUNG TRIUMPHS IN SHOSTAKOVICH CONCERTO WITH VSO
by Elizabeth Warnimont
Sunday, January 29, 2017
The Vallejo Symphony Orchestra presented their season’s second concert Jan. 29 in Vallejo’s Hogan Auditorium, devoted to early Haydn, middle Shostakovich and Beethoven’s ground-breaking “Eroica” Symphony. In remarks to the audiences of nearly 400, Conductor Marc Taddei characterized Haydn’s Sympho...
Chamber
ENSEMBLE PERFECTION IN KLR TRIO'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Longevity has its place in classical music. Composers and especially conductors live a long time, and venerable piano trios can linger for years. One can recall the great Cortot-Thibaud-Casals staying on the international scene for decades, and more recently Stern-Istomin-Rose, Oistrakh-Oborin-Knu...
Symphony
SUBLIME MOZART CLARINET CONCERTO TOPS SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Sonoma County Philharmonic’s long history of featuring soloists from the neighborhood struck gold again Jan. 28 with a ravishing Mozart Clarinet Concerto performance with soloist Roy Zajac. Before an audience of 300 the Santa Rosa High School hall the A Major Concerto (K. 626) unfolded gracefully w...
Recital
RISKY SPEED IN POTENT LUO RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Each half of pianist Wei Luo’s Schroeder Hall recital Jan. 22 contained beguiling interpretations and consummate technical command of Shostakovich and Albeniz works, but each half finished with less than exalted playing. Two of Shostakovich’s Op. 87 Preludes and Fugues opened the recital, from the ...
Recital
COLORFUL SCHUBERT AND CHOPIN WARM WEILL HALL IN AX RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Friday, January 20, 2017
On a stormy winter evening Jan. 20 a rainbow of colorful Schubert and Chopin music came from the fingers, feet and heart of pianist Emanuel Ax.  Playing at the Weill Hall for the first time, this recital was a tribute to beauty in the arts. It conveyed the value and glory of balance, lyricism and el...
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.