Author Archives: Dr. Gary Lemco

Rachmaninoff: Known and Unknown


A program of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s familiar and unfamiliar liturgical and concerted choral compositions provided the basis of a recital by the Slavyanka Chorus and assorted musicians, Saturday, June 9, at the First Presbyterian Church, Palo Alto, Irina Shachneva, conductor. Slavyanka embodies a 40-member chorus established in 2000, the name’s having been taken from the old Russian version of Northern California’s Russian River. In 2010, Irina Shachneva founded the International Rachmaninoff Music Festival in Boston. Ms. Shachneva has since led performances of the Rachmaninoff Vespers at various venues, including Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory and St. Petersburg’s Glinka Capella. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Choral, Orchestral


Modesty and Poise: A Recital by Seong-Jin Cho

The final Steinway Society recital of its 2017-18 season took place at the California Theatre in San Jose on Monday, May 28, featuring Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho, winner of the First Prize at the 2015 Chopin International Competition in Warsaw. Cho performed works by Schumann, Beethoven, Debussy, and Chopin, a program that became notable not so much for expressive fireworks, but for an artistic sense of restraint and demure poise that had us listening to every note intensely. Even the impassioned Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58 (1844) of Chopin displayed more poetry and compressed ardor than  bravura and flamboyant gestures. Perhaps only in his second encore, Chopin’s famed “Revolutionary” Etude, did Cho reveal his gifts for the outwardly demonstrative mode the large, blatantly jingoistic, audience had clamored for from the moment Cho stepped on stage. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Piano, Romantic Era


A Penchant for Percussion: Alexander Gavrylyuk in Recital

Closing his singular and exhausting recital at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, Monday, May 18, with the Horowitz transcription of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Russian virtuoso Alexander Gavrylyuk demonstrated the fiery and often stentorian arsenal of keyboard technique he brandishes with a singular aplomb, raising both the roof and the exhilarated sensibilities of his appreciative audience. In virtually dire contrast to his second encore, “Of Foreign Lands and Peoples” from Schumann’s Kinderszenen, which enjoyed a serenity of spirit that a grateful soul feels after the passing of either a windy tempest or a volcanic eruption: the last work on the official program had been the Rachmaninov Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 36 (1913; rev. 1931). The last movement of this work had Gavrylyuk’s urging brilliant, chromatic runs and chords in furious motion, with one of Rachmaninov’s patented lyrical themes in D. The shifting affects of Rachmaninov’s work seemed to encapsulate the virtues — and issues — with Gavrylyuk’s especial style and flair. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Piano, Romantic Era


Time Stolen, Time Repaid: A Recital by pianist Yeol Eum Son

It seems beyond appropriate that pianist Yeol Eum Son played but one encore after her dazzling recital at the Petit Trianon Theatre for the Steinway Society, Sunday, May 6: the Etincelles of Moritz Moszkowski, Op. 36, No. 6, his musical evocation of “Sparks” or “Sparklers.” The little gem in B-flat Major, 3/8, asked Son to exploit her facility in staccato scale passages, a requirement her deft fingers executed with that same aplomb and wicked confidence that had marked her performances in music by Mozart, Pärt, Ravel, Schubert, and Rachmaninoff.  The audience, ravenous for more of Son’s magic, had to accept to the one encore, so often the vehicle for Vladimir Horowitz to say farewell at his marathon concerts. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Classical Era, Piano


A Penchant for the Moderns: Pianist Gabriela Martinez in Concert

As though serving as a foil for the oft-percussive, even “symphonic” sonority of several of her chosen compositions, pianist Gabriela Martinez concluded her Sunday, April 15 recital at Le Petit Trianon Theatre for the Steinway Society the Bay Area with the sweet, salon Romance in E-flat Major, Op. 44, No. 1 by Anton Rubinstein. Some of us elder auditors could recall that Frank Sinatra sang the melody version of the piece as “If You are but a Dream.” Ms. Martinez, however, seemed less concerned with performing “standard” repertory as much as inviting us to hear both old and new wine in new bottles. She opened with the Seven Bagatelles, Op. 33 of Beethoven, his so-called Kleinigkeiten, of 1802-03. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Piano, Romantic Era