Author Archives: Richard Lynde

British Pianist Danny Driver — A Magical tour of Debussy & Ligeti

Returning here after an absence of 18 years, British super-pianist Danny Driver, now in his early 40’s delivered a commanding performance, seated at the ultra expressive Yamaha CFX concert grand at Peace United Church in Santa Cruz on March 19. This event concluded the 2016-17 Distinguished Artists Series season. In April 1999 he had superbly performed a conventional program of Chopin, Scriabin and Ravel on the seven-foot Steinway at St. Andrew’s Church in Aptos, also for DACLS. What we heard on this occasion was a totally unexpected, but very successful, layering of familiar early 20th century Debussy (1862-1918) impressionistic works with selections from Gyorgy Ligeti’s (1923-2006) amazing and almost overwhelming “Etudes” from the mid-1980’s to early “90”s, even more “transcendental” than all those of Liszt, Chopin, Rachmaninoff and Debussy put together. No wonder they are “cult” favorites for young, hotshot competition contestants. But Danny Driver was not showing off when, with DACLS Director John Orlando intently watching the scores as page turner, he sat lean and electric, using knowledge gained through his Cambridge degree in physiology as he sometimes reached the very depths of the bass with his left hand and the uppermost keys with his right. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Piano

Pianist Alon Goldstein Strikes Gold Here Again

Alon Goldstein

A favorite here already, 24 carat pianist Alon Goldstein returned to Peace United Church in Santa Cruz on July 31st to perform a benefit for the Juanita Orlando Piano Fund to continue raising money for the Distinguished Artists Concert & Lecture Series splendid Yamaha CFX, praised by Goldstein as one of the five best in the world he has ever played during his extensive travels. And, after a fine recital, he returned during a second, “interactive” intermission before his encores, to discuss new ideas for the series, such as having performers remain for a few days to give a master class, visit schools or play at convalescent hospitals – all this with the approval of Distinguished Artists’ founding director John Orlando.

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

Pianist Misuzu Tanaka concludes Distinguished Artists Series

Misuzu Tanaka - Revised Photo

On April 17, Misuzu Tanaka, concluding pianist in the always excellent Distinguished Artists Concert & Lecture Series 31st season, presented an appreciative audience with a fine final recital, much of it in quick tempo, by way of early Schumann, late Beethoven (along with his previous “Rage Over a lost Penny),” young 20th century Prokofiev with “new” music, and Rachmaninoff with his aching for old Russia even years before he fled. Tanaka is a very mature, sure performer, one who afterwards told series director John Orlando that playing at the magnificent Yamaha CFX concert grand here was like riding a sensitive race horse, lowering the reins a little, and letting the champion take over for a winning run. In preparation for our “sound ride” she has studied at Juilliard, in the Czech Republic, and with a performance degree from Michigan. And besides playing in large venues, she also graces small festivals like ours here.

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

Great Pianist Strikes Gold



Alon Goldstein, seasoned Israeli-born pianist, gave a gold medal performance in the second of Distinguished Artists Concert & Lecture Series 31st anniversary events at Peace United Church in Santa Cruz on October 18th. Goldstein, a loving pupil of living legend Leon Fleisher, carries on an ever vital “Viennese” tradition through straightforward performance, clean and clear sound, with sparing pedal to “let the music speak for itself,” as it did under his super-capable hands.

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

Pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi Returns in Triumph to conclude Distinguished Artists 30th season

Antonio Pompa-Baldi_edited-1

Bravos not only to pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi on his superb all-romantic piano recital, his first here in 15 years, but also to Distinguished Artists Concert & Lecture Series founder and director John Orlando for 30 years of first-rate musical adventures. The recital was on June 4 at Peace United Church of Christ in Santa Cruz, site of the spectacular Yamaha CFX concert grand; the proceeds of the concert going towards the balance on this ultra world-class instrument. We were treated to lots of familiar Chopin, some unusual sounds from a big Edward Grieg sonata, a brilliant take off on Liszt by the contemporary Roberto Piana (not “piano”), and what was almost a Viennese waltz by none other than Avant Guard 20th-century French innovator Francis Poulenc. And present at the end of the concert to award a triumphal bouquet of flowers was native San Lorenzo Valley pianist Chetan Tierra, himself an award-winning pianist, who reveled in the presence of Pompa-Baldi, his teacher and mentor at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

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