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GAULIST FLAVOR IN FINAL SF PIANO FESTIVAL CONCERT AT OLD FIRST
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Final summer music festival programs are often a mix of what has come before, with the theme and even a featured composer taking a last stage appearance, with a dramatic wrap up composition. San Francisco’s International Piano Festival defied the norm August 29 with an eclectic French-flavored prog
SPARE DUO PRECEDES MYSTEROUS DUO AT DEN BOER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, August 27, 2021
In a departure from usual summer festival fare Julia Den Boer played an August 27 virtual recital in the San Francisco Piano Festival’s 4.5 season with four works, all mostly quiet but all in separate ways insistently demanding of artist and listener. Throughout the 40 minutes there was nary a powe
HARMONIC COMPLEXITY IN PHILLIPS' ALL-GRIFFES RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, August 20, 2021
Charles Griffes’ piano music is similar to that of Busoni, Reger and even Poulenc, in that there is a sporadic flourish of interest with concerts and scholarly work, then a quick fade into another long period of obscurity. So, it was a delight to have an all-Griffes recital August 20 on the San F
Chamber
ONE PIANO, TWO PIANO, THREE PIANO, FORE
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Schroeder Hall was nearly full July 29 for the final pianoSonoma concert of their season, and presumably the draw and highlight for many of the 150 attending was Bach’s Concerto for Four Pianos. And that performance was probably going to be a North Bay premiere. However, it wasn’t the highl
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PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT FEATURES GORGEOUS VOCALISM
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Thursday, July 29, 2021
The 2021 Valley of the Moon Music Festival continued on July 29 with a sumptuous online offering of French songs, concluding with the second piano quartet by Fauré, Op. 45. Such a beautiful bouquet of video performances wonderfully filmed and recorded softened the disappointment of not being able to
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SIX GUITARISTS IN UNIQUE NAPA RECITAL
by Gary Digman
Sunday, July 25, 2021
The first Napa Valley Guitar Festival was held at Napa’s First Presbyterian Church July 25, and featured performances from six classical guitarists. The Church is an iconic structure in downtown Napa, its huge white presence dominating the scene, and the white theme continues inside punctuated by be
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BOGAS' TENURE ENDS IN OUTDOOR GUALALA CHAMBER CONCERT
by Iris Lorenzfife
Sunday, July 25, 2021
The preconcert call that music lovers should gather at Gualala Arts July 25 to attend the final Roy Bogas and Friends Concert was not quite as dire as it sounded. It seems that a year of Covid 19 and an 88th birthday had combined to convince Mr. Bogas that he was working too hard. But with cellist P
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CLARA SCHUMANN TRIO COMMANDS VOM CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT AT HANNA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 24, 2021
The Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Series has begun several virtual and a few live concerts in its new seventh season, some broadcast from Sonoma’s Hanna Center Hall and some in posh local venues. July 24’s video had a small live audience and a well-produced video program of three works. Titled “
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RARE LANG SONGS SPARKLE AT VOM FESTIVAL VIDEO RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Unexpected pleasures are often the best. Valley of the Moon Chamber Festival presented a such a pleasure last week-a July 21 recorded performance by tenor Kyle Stegall and pianist Eric Zivian in another mini-recital (very mini-just 15 minutes!) of six songs by the nineteenth century German composer
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EXEMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MENDO FESTIVAL FT. BRAGG CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Faced with the impossibility of presenting concerts in the iconic large white tent on the bluff, the Mendocino Music Festival opted to use Ft. Bragg’s Cotton Auditorium for ten events in the abbreviated 35th season. San Francisco’s Alexander String Quartet played July 21 to a fully masked audience
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.