On Sunday afternoon, September 17, at the elegant home of Lyn and Renee Bronson, an invited audience had the unique pleasure of hearing an intimate recital performed by distinguished Santa Clara University pianist Hans Boepple, who has frequently appeared as a soloist on the Carmel Music Society’s series at Sunset Center in Carmel and as a concerto soloist with the Santa Cruz Symphony. The idyllic setting with views of the Pacific Ocean proved to be perfect for meaty program consisting of the following works: Bach’s Toccata in D Major, BWV 912 (1710), César Franck’s Prelude, Chorale and Fugue (1884), Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in D Major, Op. 23, No. 4 (1903) and Chopin’s Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58 (1844).
Most of Bach’s toccatas have several brilliant sections contrasting with a slower one in the middle. Boepple opened the work with brilliant scale and chordal passages that led to the lovely central section. Bach’s skillful counterpoint in the left hand complimented the fluid passages in the right hand, the effects of which were reinforced by Boepple’s careful managing of dynamics and balances between the hands. The slow section made a profound statement with an almost “spiritual” chordal quality, which is so much a part of Bach’s music and life. The imitation between voices was delightfully creative.
César Franck’s beautiful and richly constructed composition, the Prelude, Chorale and Fugue, certainly deserves to be heard more often than it actually is. Boepple infused a strong sense of a Brahms-like quality into his performance. Melodic aspects were richly orchestrated, again much like those found in solo piano works by Brahms, a point Boepple emphasized with his constant attention to musical taste and style. The lovely Chorale with its extended arpeggios from the bottom to the top of the piano, achieved subtle moments of magic, amplified by the bell-like quality of the Bronson’s superb 2005 vintage Steinway concert grand adding another dimension to the overall sound. The complex and challenging fugue with its imitative textures presented no problem for Boepple’s technique.
Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in D major from his Op. 23 collection, opened with gentle, dreamy melodic lines so reminiscent of Chopin. Its compelling poetic magic and its developing complex counterpoint is an outstanding example of the post romantic style found in his Preludes and Etudes-Tableau.
The program ended with a mighty performance of Chopin’s most ambitious solo composition, the Sonata in B Minor, Op. 58. After a surprising amount of counterpoint in its richly conceived, complex first movement, and the dazzling and fast moving Scherzo, the third movement designated Largo was beautifully realized — both haunting and operatic in character. The delicate rubato quality Boepple was able to produce was beguiling. The Finale offered challenging virtuoso passages performed by Mr. Boepple with virtuosity and pizzazz.
Perhaps the most familiar work on the program came with the encore. Here Franz Schubert’s Impromptu in E-flat Major, Op. 90, No. 2 rose to the occasion and charmed us all. Boepple began the work with precise, rippling scale combinations in triplets that were superbly realized. The middle section in the parallel E flat Minor key added a dark mood and then worked its way back to beginning idea. Well done Mr. Boepple!