Author Archives: Dr. Gary Lemco

The Thoughtful Muse: A Recital by Pianist Daria Rabotkina

Daria Rabotkina

In a letter to me some years ago, composer Morton Gould remarked that writing a new composition lay “fraught with danger — that of being judged less on its own merits than by an amalgam of its influences.” Such might have been the case for pianist Daria Rabotkina’s performance of the Sonata in B-flat Minor (1975) of American composer Paul Aurandt, given Sunday, February 9 at the Hammer Theatre, in San Jose under the auspices of the Steinway Society the Bay Area. Certainly, Aurandt follows Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto in its dramatic, if Hollywood-compressed, attempt to imitate the grand Russian style. Yet Ms. Rabotkina’s sincerity and singular keyboard prowess managed to convince us that this bravura essay in Neo-Romantic temperament had moments of singular merit. 

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


Heavy Stuff – A Recital by Vladimir Feltsman

Vladimir Feltsman

In an epigram by Lord Bacon, cited by Edgar Allan Poe, we read, “There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in its proportions.”  So we must recall the Wednesday, February 5 piano recital by Vladimir Feltsman at Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall, “The Russian Experiment: From Mystical to Avant-Garde” that addressed the music of Aleksandr Scriabin and his selected acolytes. Feltsman took his rubric from the critic Brodsky, justifying these musical dissidents with the notion that “Darkness reveals what light can conceal.” Sparsely attended though it was, the recital – admittedly for those with acquired tastes – aroused unmitigated favor in the audience, who by the end of the tour of five composers had to acknowledge the alternately poetic and blazing prowess of our guest artist. Feltsman performed his massive program sans intermission.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Piano


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