Author Archives: Dr. Gary Lemco

The Grand Line: Symphony Silicon Valley

Pianist Jon Kimura Parker

Happy is the ensemble that relishes its own sound. While only two staples of the Romantic style – the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83 and the Dvorak Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88 – made up the program for Symphony Silicon Valley’s concert of January 19 at the California Theatre, conductor Daniel Meyer had the orchestra execute with the kind of sonorous homogeneity that allows the players themselves to enjoy the integration of their respective parts into an aesthetically satisfying whole. With the participation of this evening’s piano soloist, Jon Kimura Parker, in the Brahms, the collaboration found blissful expression in the program, designed to please an audience committed to the proven classics.

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Archived in these categories: Classical Era, Orchestral, Piano, Romantic Era

Steely Spectrum: A Recital by Pianist Kate Liu

That the roof of the Trianon Theatre remained intact may indicate a minor miracle, given the explosive performance of Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 8 in B-flat Major, Op. 84 by pianist Kate Liu, under the auspices of the Steinway Society, Saturday, January 12. Ms. Liu displayed a virile penchant for fiery contrasts, textural and dynamic, in her choice of selections: she opened with Beethoven’s 1821 Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110; the four Ballades, Op. 10 of Johannes Brahms; the late Mazurkas, Op. 59 (1846) of Frederic Chopin; and the aforementioned “War Sonata” (1944) of Sergei Prokofiev.  

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Archived in these categories: Piano

The Third Ear: A Recital by Seong-Jin Cho

An extraordinary exhibition of pianistic virtuosity and seamless musicianship graced the precincts of the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco on Monday evening, October 21, under the auspices of San Francisco Performances, with Seong-Jin Cho’s electrifying renditions of music by Bach, Schubert, Chopin and Mussorgsky. The Korean pianist, winner of the 2015 Gold Medal at the Chopin International Competition in Warsaw, may appear demure and shy in person, but once seated at the keyboard he commands no less than a Titan’s arsenal of power and colors, focused entirely and aptly, to the style of the music at hand. It seemed as if each successive selection unleashed potential within the piano that a wizard had found the alchemy to manipulate. By the time Cho graced the audience with two encores, the sense of awe and veneration in the hall had us palpably in thrall. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Piano, Romantic Era

Virtuoso! JoAnn Falletta Leads Symphony Silicon Valley’s Opening Concert

Thoroughly engaging the Symphony Silicon Valley in their program of Barber, Prokofiev, and Sibelius, guest-conductor JoAnn Falletta led a spectacularly successful demonstration of orchestral discipline Saturday, October 6 at San Jose’s California Theatre to inaugurate the 2018-19 season. By the time we reached the commanding series of chords that conclude the Sibelius E-flat Symphony, Op. 82, the irrevocable impression we had gleaned convinced us that master musicians had assembled to deliver nothing less than a virtuoso display of musical temperament buttressed by seamless technical control. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Orchestral

Russian Nefertiti: Zlata Chochieva in Recital


The Steinway Society the Bay Area inaugurated its 2018-19 season on Saturday, September 15, with a fine recital by Russian piano virtuoso Zlata Chochieva, who performed music by Bach, Rachmaninov, Chopin, and Liszt. Appearing in a silver, svelte gown, Ms. Chochieva might have resembled a sleek, modern incarnation of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, in the classic pose with her hair slicked back, except this deity of the keyboard holds her wrists low and exerts magical, athletic presence on the music she surveys. A combination of potent textures and poetic temperament ensued, inflamed her appreciative audience to demand one encore, a breathless, scintillating rendition of Chopin’s Etude Op. 10, No. 5 in G-flat Major, the “Black Keys.”    Read full story

Archived in these categories: Piano, Romantic Era