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


Monterey Symphony – Pianist Kun Woo Paik returns for a Double Header

Pianist Kun Woo Paik & Conductor Max Bragado-Darman

Last night at Sunset Center conductor Max Bragado-Darman and the Monterey Symphony presented its second concert of the 2019-2020 season, and it was quite an unusual program. It featured Korean pianist Kun Woo Paik performing two concertos — Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat major, K. 595 and Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 15 in D Minor. Very rarely does a symphonic program contain no other works but a pair of piano concertos, and thereby hangs a tale.

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Archived in these categories: Classical Era, Concerto, Monterey Symphony, Orchestral, Piano, Romantic Era


Pianist Vadym Kholodenko in Miami Recital

Vadym Kholodenko

On Friday November 8, 2019, Vadym Kholodenko, Winner of the Gold medal at the 2013 Van Cliburn Competition, played an utterly spectacular piano recital at Florida International University’s Wertheim Concert Hall in Miami.

The first half of the recital was devoted to works of Mozart and Beethoven — Mozart’s Fantasia in C Minor, K.475, Beethoven’s Seven Bagatelles, Op. 33 and Rondo a Capriccio,Op.129 (“Rage Over a Lost Penny”). His remarkable range of expressive color and dynamics brought the audience to its feet  with a standing ovation.

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Archived in these categories: 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


Hungarian Pianist Peter Tóth Recital in Santa Cruz

There are so many ways to build a concert program, from very traditional to innovative. Pianist Peter Tóth offered a program of seven great historical keyboard composers while choosing some of the less well-known works by those composers along with a dose of more familiar pieces. The diverse programming was effective, offered by The Distinguished Artists Series at Peace United Church in Santa Cruz on November 3. 

The first half of the program was more classical, emphasizing the expressive use of the piano, while the pieces following intermission explored more dramatic and heavier sonorities. Three of the selections were in the theme and variations form, a favorite of composers for centuries. Handel’s Chaconne in G was the first of these, with an eight-bar theme consisting of a chord progression, followed by an array of twenty-one colorful variations that make use of the keyboard techniques of the 18th century. Tóth’s majestic opening with colorful ornamentation contrasted with expressive delicacy in the middle section, creating a gentle and intimate mood. 

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