Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Josephine Yang: Duo Recital

Josephine Yang described Alexander Scriabin's Sonata No. 2 in two interestingly different ways. According to her, Scriabin wanted to describe "the seashore and the deep, dark sea" with the piece. But Yang wanted something more emotional that she could connect with, like a story of love and love lost. When she sat down at the piano and started to play, I kept thinking of elements of both stories all wrapped together. At times, the Scriabin sounded very cold and calm, almost ocean-like. Then you would get a part that sounded perfectly like an acrimonious breakup. There were love bits aplenty in the piece, and Yang took them in a very courtly, stately sort of way (it reminded me of a Mr. Darcy-and-Elizabeth, Jane Austen type of love story). Overall, the piece sounded really reflective and introspective.
Following Scriabin was Beethoven's Sonata for Violin and Piano, performed again with Jennifer Startt. (Completely unconsciously, my first note on the piece was "Spirited start!" ...apologies to Jennifer.) Both Startt and Yang have some fire to their respective sounds, although Yang played a bit more restrained than Saturday just by nature of the duo piece. It sounded for some reason like they were building a house; the violin laid a block, the piano spread the mortar and laid another block, and they just kept building and building until the climax of the piece. (That's how houses work, right?)

For her final piece, Yang settled on Schumann's Concerto in A Minor, or as I've come to know it, the "Clara concerto". Yang told the audience all about the love story of Robert and Clara, and how the first movement (which she played) was about them pining for each other. Yang and orchestral pianist Willanna Kalkhof combined for a melodious, flowing, lyrical sound that broke out in short, excited bursts. When the two came to a loud, wake-the-sleepers part of the piece, Yang really charged into it and got Kalkhof to respond in kind. Somehow, though, they retained the melodious, flowing sound from earlier in the piece. When they passed the love theme back and forth--Yang had mentioned how much of the first movement is just one theme being constantly transformed--each person would add a new little twist and then throw the theme back to the first person. Both Yang and Kalkhof were grinning like mad afterwards as they stood to take to their bows.

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