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


Carmel Music Society opens its new season with pianist Olga Kern

Olga Kern

Presented by the Carmel Music Society, Russian-American pianist Olga Kern made a triumphant return yesterday afternoon to Sunset Center in Carmel. Kern was elegantly dressed in a flowing red designer gown for the first half of the recital and in a flowing silver designer gown for the second half. Not only did her appearance make quite an impression, but so did her stage presence. An engaging smile and a charming manner when speaking to the audience won us over before she even played a note.

Peter Thorp, President of the Carmel Music Society had added some new technology to the afternoon’s recital. A video camera suspended over the piano keyboard projected a view from above of the pianist’s hands during the performances onto a screen over the stage. Thus, we could enjoy a side view from the audience plus a video top view of the pianist’s hands.

After a warmup performance of a rarely-heard Beethoven set of Variations on a Theme by Salieri, Kern settled in to perform one of the greatest works Beethoven ever composed for the keyboard, the Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53, known as the “Waldstein.” We heard a masterful performance of the first movement that held our attention throughout Beethoven’s presentation of compelling musical ideas, its powerful development section and satisfying recapitulation and coda. The brief second movement, Adagio Molto, served as an introduction to the concluding Rondo that was capped off by the Prestissimo finale. Kern brought a lot of charm, vitality and easy virtuosity to her performance of this sonata and made it look easy in the process.

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


Carmel Presbyterian Community Concert

            Fall has arrived! With the crisp air come favored activities: Enjoying wonderful fruits and vegetables, making pies and jellies and jams, Football games, and Opening Concerts. What Fun! For quite a few years, I supported my children by spending many Friday evenings sitting in Bleachers and cheering. Truth be told, I paid more attention during “Halftime” than “Game time” due to the activities my kids favored. Those were happy Friday evenings for the most part. Now, I’m content to attend a few concerts when the leaves begin to turn fabulous colors.

            To whet my appetite this fall, I chose to attend a Community Concert. Sponsored by Carmel Presbyterian Church, six local musicians gathered Friday, October 4, 2019 to offer a wide variety of music. There were solo pieces along with duets; even a Piano Trio. One of the organists at Carmel Presbyterian, Eun Ha Chung, was the busiest as she played solo pieces on the piano and the organ. She also served as accompanist for most of the other musicians. Eun Ha is a talented pianist. The instruments at Carmel Presbyterian Church were both used to their advantage.

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Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Baroque, Cello, Chamber music, Organ, Piano


Violinist Ilya Kaler & pianist Alon Goldstein open Distinguished Artist Series

Violinist Ilya Kaler
Pianist Alon Goldstein

The 2019-20 The Distinguished Artists Concert Series, founded and directed by John Orlando since 1984, now Emeritus Head of the Piano Department at Cabrillo College, opened this season’s performances with a splendid violin-piano recital at Peace United Church in Santa Cruz on Saturday evening, September 21st. The stunning program, featuring violinist Ilya Kaler and frequent pianist here, Alon Goldstein at the mighty Yamaha CFX concert grand gave a rousing performance “as advertised” –- in a word “sensational.” While Goldstein often deceptively appears as if in a meditative trance, Ilya Kaler strode out with his fiddle in an energetic, forceful stance. Yet the duo performed “as one.”  Kaler is the only violinist to have gold-medalled in all three of these huge international competitions: The Paganini (1981), The Sibelius (1985) and the Tchaikovsky (1986).  He continues to concertize all over the world and is currently on the faculty of the Cleveland Institute. Goldstein also is in demand around the world, and his Festival appearances include not only the Marlboro in Vermont but also the super-exclusive Verbier in the Swiss Alps. 

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Archived in these categories: Baroque, Chamber music, Piano, Romantic Era, Violin


Piano Music at the Steinway Piano Gallery in Coral Gables

On Saturday, September 21, 2019, there was a piano recital of considerable interest at the Steinway Piano Gallery in Coral Gables, Florida, made possible by the Steinway Piano Gallery’s owner, Kenneth Silva. Albanian pianist Redi Llupa, who has been a guest artist and lecturer at the Eastman School of Music, primarily known for his performances of contemporary repertoire opened with an impressive performance of Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata, Op. 31, No. 2

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Archived in these categories: Piano