Author Archives: Dr. Gary Lemco

Melancholy and Mirth: Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung in Recital

Alessio Bax & Lucille Chung

In a suave display of synchronous ensemble, duo-pianists Alessio Bax and wife Lucille Chung performed keyboard, four-hand music under the auspices of the Steinway Society, Saturday, January 11 at the Hammer Theatre, San Jose. Music by Schubert, Debussy, Stravinsky and Piazzolla provided an emotional and color diapason of melancholy and mirth, traversing a range of piano music either meant for the salon or literally conceived on an orchestral scale, vehicles for the gifted duo whose acuity and precision may have reminded older auditors of the golden era of Vronsky and Babin.

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

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 Rizzo 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