Author Archives: Dr. Gary Lemco

Easy Panache: Symphony Silicon Valley Concert

Soloist Nareh Arghamanyan

For those who braved the rainy weather on Saturday, December 8, the concert at the California Theatre in San Jose by Symphony Silicon Valley with Pietro Rizzi conducting proved most auspicious. Assisted by Armenian piano virtuoso Nareh Arghamanyan in the Piano Concerto in D-flat Major by Aram Khachaturian, all participants generated a colossal excitement in the course of this percussive, nationalist testament to the spirit of the Caucasus. Complementing the vivid colors of the 1936 Khachaturian Concerto, we had Rizzi’s conducting works by Glinka and Brahms that demonstrated a refined and sensitive approach to familiar staples that had the power to sound refreshed in their easy panache and suave execution.

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

Intimate Audacities: Pianist Changyong Shin in Recital

Changyong Shin

A modest but well-pleased audience hailed pianist Changyong Shin as he concluded his Sunday, November 17 recital for Steinway Society – The Bay Area at the Independence High School auditorium in San Jose. Responding with one encore, Chopin’s Grande valse brillante in E-flat Major, Op. 18, rendered flawlessly, Shin more than confirmed his prowess in music that demands audacity, dexterity, and poetry by such diverse personalities as Beethoven, Chopin, Ravel, and Granados. Shin seems to embody that “smart performer of smart music,” to paraphrase Ned Rorem — that musician whose mind proves as agile as his gifted fingers. The two large works on the program, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109, and Ravel’s daunting Gaspard de la nuit, each required the careful balance of deft articulation and intellectual acumen to bring off manifestation of power and lyric intimacy at the same time.

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

[email protected] – Risen from the Tomb

The [email protected] Focus series launched a most successful concert of Russian music – that of Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky – Saturday, November 8, graced by the presence of a host of gifted musicians, perhaps first among them pianist Ignat Solzhenitsyn, son of the  internationally distinguished author, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Under the rubric “Art Under a Tombstone,” the concert, accompanied by a lecture the night preceding, meant to revive the Russian sense of spiritual authenticity after years of political and cultural repression by the Soviet regime.  The program, held at St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, Menlo Park, proffered a wonderfully vibrant Hamburg Steinway for the two featured pianists, Solzhenitsyn and Gloria Chien, to ply their extraordinary gifts. And despite a somewhat dry acoustic in the hall, each of the three works on the program – the Shostakovich Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 8; the Shostakovich Seven Romances on Poems by Aleksander Blok, Op. 127; and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A Minor, Op. 50 – achieved a pungent and lyrical illumination that took the modest but thoroughly enthralled audience by storm.

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

Pianist Anna Dmytrenko in San Jose

Anna Dmytrenko

Although we only heard two composers, Rachmaninoff and Beethoven, comprising the Steinway Society’s concert on October 27 at San Jose’s Hammer Theater, the soloist, Ukrainian-American pianist Anna Dmytrenko, instilled a glorious array of subtle color into her performance and achieved that rare combination of virtuosity, poetry, and intellect that results in artistic musicianship of the highest order. Add to this the beautifully-selected program selections: (Rachmaninoff’s 1931 Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42, the first five of his 1903 Preludes from Op. 23, Beethoven’s Andante Favori, WoO 57 (1803) and his massive Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111 (1822) plus the sheer beauty of tone available to Dmytrenko courtesy of the Steinway concert grand at her disposal, and the success of the afternoon became a fait accompli.

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

The Chagrins of Love — Ian Bostridge in Recital

Ian Bostridge

A small but highly appreciative audience attended the Wednesday, October 16 recital by tenor Ian Bostridge and pianist-composer Brad Mehldau at Stanford’s Bing Hall. The program rubric, “The Folly of Desire,” featured music by two composers, Mehldau and Robert Schumann. For the eleven songs by Mehldau, the self-immolating and often debased aspects of desire became subject matter for a series of jazzy treatments, more rhythmic and harmonic than conspicuously melodic. The poems Mehldau selects, from his “post MeToo” sensibility, derive from such diverse talents as Auden, Cummings, Shakespeare, Yeats, Blake, Brecht, and Goethe. Their content affirms, denies, mocks, and even salaciously depicts the more carnal implications of love – or rather, lust – in its attempt to achieve the spiritual resolution it might offer as agape. For Robert Schumann, whose music commanded the second half of the concert, his four independent songs and the 1840 cycle Dichterliebe, Op. 48, seek to reconcile love with Nature’s ineluctable tendency to make ephemeral our most exalted moments. 

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Archived in these categories: 21st Century, Piano, Vocal