On Sunday, July 26, Lyn and Renée Bronson presented the highly talented Chinese – American pianist Clara Yang in recital. Tucked away in the beautiful Carmel Highlands, the setting for this “Salon Concert” could not have been more charming, and the charismatic Ms. Yang proved to be the perfect centerpiece. Ms. Yang has a list of impressive credentials, including a Doctoral Degree in Piano Performance from the Eastman School of Music. She has performed as concerto soloist and has participated in music festivals in the USA and abroad. Her principal mentors include Hans Boepple in San Jose, Zhou Guang-ren in Beijing, China, Claude Frank at the Yale School of Music, and John Perry at the University of Southern California, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.
The program consisted of “Reflection on a Tang Poem” by Phil Young (b. 1952), Klavierstücke, Op. 118 by Johannes Brahms, “How can I live in your world of ideas?” by Timo Andres (b. 1985) and the Fantasie in C Major, Op. 15 “Wanderer” by Franz Schubert.
Phil Young’s work opened with a chord answered by a single note in the bass. This idea developed into a chordal structure followed by clean, well-played arpeggios in the high register. Delicate counterpoint entered the nicely conceived structure, alternating between the impressionistic sound frames. A recapitulation once again balanced between chord and single note. Compositionally Young’s work was well designed and well received by the audience!
This concert revealed the multifaceted artistry of Clara Yang. A sense of delight permeated the Brahms compositions while always teasingly alluding to the giant shadow of full orchestration. Ms. Yang brought out the subtle variation of color. and the shifts in rhythmic patterns were performed with clarity and the kind of supple freedom that even the most refined orchestral conductor could hardly match. Ms. Yang constantly emphasized the expressive song-like quality in the soprano line, especially in Intermezzo number 3, the Ballade in G minor, that she performed in true “ballade,” singable style. The Intermezzo number six in E-flat minor created a haunting sense of organic continuity. For some odd reason the opening idea mysteriously alludes to the Dies irae, dies illa found in Verdi’s Requiem.
Timo Andres’ work is a movement from a large scale, one-hour composition. The musically tasteful, quasi chordal “jazz” introduction was most effective. High energy rhythmic patterns sprang suddenly into the texture, only to subside immediately and effectively. Ms. Yang’s controlled trills, artistically negotiated scale patterns, impressive rhythmic and dynamic changes gave life to this beautifully-conceived work.
Franz Schubert’s Fantasie in C Major, popularly referred to as the “Wanderer” was composed in November of 1822 and by all accounts is considered his most technically demanding piano composition. Schubert is quoted as having said “the devil may play it.” In 1816, Schubert composed the Lied, Der Wanderer, which provided the melody from which the Fantasie in C Major develops. The four movements are performed without pause and here Ms. Yang opened the gates to a welcome deluge of brilliant, artistic interpretation. She combined impressive keyboard prowess with probing emotional depth and daring individuality through to the thunderous conclusion. Ms. Yang thoughtfully attended to unraveling Schubert’s musical intent, while giving the score a vividly personalized interpretation.