The Distinguished Artists Concert & Lecture Series continued its 2015-16 concert season by presenting pianist Claire Huangci in a recital yesterday afternoon at Peace United Church in Santa Cruz. That it was a successful recital was evidenced by the presenters running out of printed programs and asking people to share with latecomers. That in Santa Cruz yesterday afternoon two sizable and quite different audiences gathered to hear two quite different recital programs is a testament to the vitality of serious classical music across the Bay.
In her program containing Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Two Impromptus from Schubert’s Op. 142 and Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13, Huangci revealed herself to be the complete pianist. There is simply nothing she cannot do at the piano — from the softest, most expressive pianissimo to blood and guts virtuosity, she has it all. Not only does Peace United Church have very reverberant acoustics, which often made it difficult to hear the rapidly articulated faster passages in the Goldberg Variations, the echoey reverberation also interfered with our ability to separate some of the louder passages in the Goldberg Variations, resulting in Huangci’s performance often sounding bigger than life — sort of Bach in the style of Busoni. However, when the sound wasn’t overbearing, you could hear what a fine and sensitive musician Huangci is.
Her Chopin Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, was a marvel of technical mastery and I have never heard the coda played faster (or louder). However, there was also plenty of fine expressive playing and a nice feeling for the beauty of the Ballade’s lyricism.
Having an appointment on the Monterey Peninsula at 7 pm, I had to leave at 5:30 pm and only heard a few minutes of the lovely performance of one of the Schubert Impromptus.
Let’s hope she will be back for a return engagement.