Pianist Yura Margulis at Hidden Valley

Last night at Hidden Valley pianist Jura Margulis treated us to an evening of bold and expressive keyboard virtuosity. That he has a vast arsenal of virtuoso skills is never in doubt, and he is not shy about showing them off. Thus, in the six Scarlatti Sonatas opening the program Margulis was not trying to give us examples of scholarly and historically informed performance, but rather examples of his own very personal and romantically styled approach to Scarlatti. Some of the faster passages flew by at warp speed while the slower passages tended to be burdened with expressive emoting. Each of the six chosen sonatas is a minor masterpiece, and, like any masterpiece, is capable of a wide variety of stylistic executions, since the original works are greater in conception than can ever be realized in actual performance. So, true to himself, Mr. Margulis gave us an old-fashioned view of romantic Scarlatti, and for him this approach worked. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Piano, Romantic Era

A Penchant for Percussion: Alexander Gavrylyuk in Recital

Closing his singular and exhausting recital at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, Monday, May 18, with the Horowitz transcription of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Russian virtuoso Alexander Gavrylyuk demonstrated the fiery and often stentorian arsenal of keyboard technique he brandishes with a singular aplomb, raising both the roof and the exhilarated sensibilities of his appreciative audience. In virtually dire contrast to his second encore, “Of Foreign Lands and Peoples” from Schumann’s Kinderszenen, which enjoyed a serenity of spirit that a grateful soul feels after the passing of either a windy tempest or a volcanic eruption: the last work on the official program had been the Rachmaninov Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 36 (1913; rev. 1931). The last movement of this work had Gavrylyuk’s urging brilliant, chromatic runs and chords in furious motion, with one of Rachmaninov’s patented lyrical themes in D. The shifting affects of Rachmaninov’s work seemed to encapsulate the virtues — and issues — with Gavrylyuk’s especial style and flair. Read full story

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

Monterey Symphony Ends Season with a Bang!

Pianist Philippe Bianconi

The Monterey Symphony ended its 2017-2018 season last night at Sunset Center in a blaze of glory. The ending work on the program, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, sent us on our way with its famous themes resonating in our heads and reminding us how great a piece it is, no matter how many times we may have heard it in the past. The Monterey Symphony, under the direction of Max Bragado-Darman never sounded better, and it is with shock and surprise that we learned in the printed program that Maestro Max will be leaving us at the end of the 2019-2020 season. We will miss him, but he has accomplished a lot during his tenure and will be leaving a much stronger orchestra than the one he inherited. Read full story

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

Soprano Hyesang Park & pianist Ken Noda

On Sunday afternoon May 13, 2018 lyric soprano Hyesang Park and pianist Ken Noda gave a stunningly beautiful recital of diverse love songs at the University of Miami’s Gusman Concert Hall. Throughout Park’s unforgettable singing one could easily understand why she is scheduled for major operatic roles in the world’s principal opera houses during the next few years. It is hard to think of a more sensitive pianist for a vocal recital than Ken Noda, a Barenboim protégé who played as soloist and chamber pianist with virtually all of the world’s greatest orchestras and chamber musicians before becoming musical assistant to the Director of the Metropolitan Opera over 25 years ago. The interpretive collaboration and technical quality of his playing was simply unforgettable. Read full story

Archived in these categories: Piano, Romantic Era, Vocal

Youth Music Monterey — Mother’s Musical Souvenir

YMMC Competition Winner Courtney McDonald

Youth Music Monterey County attracted a huge audience at Sunset Center on Sunday afternoon. YMMC President Dorothy Micheletti gave a warm welcome to the talented young performers, their families who support them, and to their hardworking teachers who inspire them. She also gave thanks to all the donors whose financial generosity makes it possible to present concerts in a very professional venue like Sunset Center, rather than in a school auditorium on squeaky chairs or, heavens forbid, a gymnasium — where some youth orchestras with leaner budgets might end up performing. Thanks were also given to Hidden Valley Music Seminars, whose Director, Peter Meckel, continues to provide much needed rehearsal facilities. Since this concert not only represented the end of YMMC’s 2017-2018 season, but also the 30th anniversary of the founding of YMMC, the audience was invited to a birthday celebration following the concert with lavish goodies and birthday cake in the lobby and on the patio outside. Read full story

Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Competition, Concerto, Orchestral, Romantic Era, Youth Music Monterey