Pianist Dang Thai Son opens Chopin Festival in Miami


On Sunday evening, June 24th, Dang Thai Son, winner of the 1980 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, played an interesting recital in Miami to open a Chopin Festival organized by Kevin Kenner, winner of the 1990 Chopin Competition. For many years Dang Thai son had not been allowed to play in the United States because he was born in Hanoi, Vietnam. His program consisted of works by Schubert, Chopin, Paderewski, and Liszt. Opening with Schubert’s Allegretto in C minor, D.915 and the 12 German Dances, D.790, Dang Thai Son’s soft pianissimos and pedaling were magical. His wonderful sonority, pedaling, and remarkable fingers were also evident in the three Chopin Mazurkas, although his approach to the Barcarolle did not make me forget Moiseiwitsch, Rubinstein or Horowitz.

After intermission, his approach to five Paderewski miniatures was again often magical. The concluding Reminiscences of Bellini’s Norma by Liszt brought the audience to its feet but did not erase the indelible memory of Ivan Davis’s incomparable performances of the Norma Paraphrase in which brilliant virtuosity was coupled with a unique understanding and affection for Italian opera that was without peer. The encore, the slow movement from Schubert’s late Sonata, D. 958, was again conveyed with beautiful, soft sonority.


Archived in these categories: Piano, Romantic Era

Alexey Trushechkin Recital in Aptos

It was a highly enthusiastic audience that turned out Sunday afternoon, June 24, to hear Russian pianist Alexey Trushechkin perform a recital presented jointly by Joseph Sekon and the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in Aptos. Twenty-eight-year-old Trushechkin, a product of the Moscow Conservatory and presently a graduate student at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, has all the attributes we would expect from a Russian-trained virtuoso. He has a masterful technique that knows no limitations, an expressive style that shapes phrases with elegant conviction, and a genuinely sympathetic feeling for a wide variety of romantic and 20th-century repertoire.  Read full story

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

The Perils of Perfection: SF Symphony and Daniil Trifonov


Music by Sibelius and Rachmaninov provided the intense musical landscapes traversed by the San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting, for the series June 21-24 at Davies Hall. The first half of the concert, devoted to the last two Sibelius symphonies, projected as consummate a sense of orchestral homogeneity and sumptuousness of tone as has been my privilege to experience. Guest pianist Daniil Trifonov joined the orchestra for a massive rendition of the Rachmaninov Third Piano Concerto, the much-familiar score’s here having received an idiosyncratic interpretation that makes us wonder what happens when a flawless technical command has nowhere to go than “other.” Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Concerto, Orchestral, Romantic Era

Hartnell Community Choir at Church of the Wayfarer

On June 10, Church of the Wayfarer in Carmel was the acoustically lovely setting for the Hartnell Community Choir’s ambitious program under the direction of Robin McKee Williams. This small but mighty vocal ensemble continues to prove its vocal chops with challenging music more often programmed with larger groups. The richness of sound and blend with string instruments, piano and flute was more than evident. Four guest vocalists began the program featuring arias and art songs from a variety of composers. Gabriel Faure’s En Sourdine, featuring Kirl Havezov, baritone, set a peaceful feeling that evolved into “the nightingale” singing as the “voice of our despair.” Anna Yelizarova, mezzo-soprano, followed with a most confident, and wide vocal range, Amour from the second act of Camille Saint-Saens “Sampson and Delila.” What may appear as a love song and enticement for Sampson to go to Delila, is actually a song of vengeance with a wish for the god of love to “pour poison in his heart.” Veronica Jensen, mezzo-soprano, displayed a very flirty and strong Carmen from the moment she walked on. There was no doubt as to what was on Carmen’s mind. In Nemico della patria, from Umberto Giordano’s “Andrea Chenier”, Krassen Karagiozov, baritone, sang of being the “Enemy of the Fatherland.” Strength of conviction and emotion was consistent throughout the aria finishing with “the only truth is passion.” The piano mastery of Marina Thomas underpinning these strong soloists goes without saying. It was as if Thomas was an orchestra unto herself. Read full story

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

Modesty and Poise: A Recital by Seong-Jin Cho

The final Steinway Society recital of its 2017-18 season took place at the California Theatre in San Jose on Monday, May 28, featuring Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho, winner of the First Prize at the 2015 Chopin International Competition in Warsaw. Cho performed works by Schumann, Beethoven, Debussy, and Chopin, a program that became notable not so much for expressive fireworks, but for an artistic sense of restraint and demure poise that had us listening to every note intensely. Even the impassioned Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58 (1844) of Chopin displayed more poetry and compressed ardor than  bravura and flamboyant gestures. Perhaps only in his second encore, Chopin’s famed “Revolutionary” Etude, did Cho reveal his gifts for the outwardly demonstrative mode the large, blatantly jingoistic, audience had clamored for from the moment Cho stepped on stage. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Piano, Romantic Era