Pianist Kevin Lee Sun in Aptos Keyboard Series

Pianist Kevin Lee Sun

Kevin Lee Sun made quite a splash when he won the Grand Prize in the Carmel Music Society’s 2018 Biennial Piano Competition, and he reinforced this positive impression when he appeared as a recitalist on the Music Society’s regular concert season in January 2019. It was, however, noted in 2019, that Sun’s programming for this recital was odd. The most dramatic works that should have ended the program were scheduled in the first half so that the more problematic selections ended the program with a whimper rather than a bang. It so puzzlied the audience that at the end of the program there was a weak standing ovation and no encore.

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


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


Musical Postcards — Pianist Pianist Tien Hsieh in Recital at CSUMB

Director Joe Cardinalli introducing Tien Hsieh

In 2019, California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) celebrated its 25 anniversary. In 1994 the former Ft. Ord, home to the 7th US Army Infantry Division, by act of Congress became the newest member of the California State University System. With modest fanfare President William Jefferson Clinton was on hand (there were snipers on every rooftop) to give the new university his official blessings. In his convocation speech he said, “In converting a military installation into an institute of higher learning we are, in a way, beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.” From 600 students in its opening year to over 7,500 students today, CSUMB has become a vital presence on California’s central coast, even more so since the creation of the “Leon Panetta Institute,” which attracts the attention of the world for its contribution to international relations.

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Archived in these categories: Piano


A Steinway Celebration

Linda Mehrabian, Lucy Faridany, Judy Lee & Patty Pai

On January 25, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Monterey Peninsula, we heard a very special concert celebrating the renovation of a splendid 115-year-old Steinway 6’4″ grand piano originally donated by parishioner Harry Ogden in 1992. This instrument was recently totally rebuilt and refinished thanks to donations from church members.

This concert was a standing-room-only sellout — there were not enough printed programs so latecomers had to share. But for those of us fortunate enough to squeeze into the limited space, it was a very rewarding concert. The featured artists on this occasion were pianist Lucy Faridany, cellist Linda Mehrabian, and vocalists Jody Lee and Patty Pai.

We heard some unusual repertoire — how often have you heard works combining voice, cello and piano? Well we heard several of them during this concert by composers Fauré, César Franck, Debussy and Poulenc. Singers Lee and Pai impressed us with their lovely voices, superb musicianship and lovely shaping of phrases.

Cellist Linda Mehrabian has a beautiful rich sound and charmed us with her elegant playing in works by Gabriel Fauré and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The player with the largest role during the concert was Lucy Faridany, who always impresses us with her ability to get to the heart and soul of any work she performs. There is a naturalness to her playing, whether supporting others in ensemble playing or as a soloist, for on this occasion she performed Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu and Waltz in E Minor, Op. Posth, and and then blew us away with a powerful performance of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G Minor, Op. 23, No. 5.

We can hope that there will be many more concerts in the Church’s Music Series.

End

Archived in these categories: Cello, Chamber music, Piano, Vocal