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Wei-Yi Yang review: Yale Pianist Dazzles With Chopin, Liszt, Scriabin

CVNC: An Online Arts Journal in North Carolina | By Steve Row

January 29, 2015 – Greenville, NC | The word must have gotten out among keyboard aficionados that someone special was coming to perform as a guest pianist at East Carolina University. Of course, many students were in the Fletcher Recital Hall auditorium, but many from the community were attending, too. And visiting Yale University faculty pianist Wei-Yi Yang gave a memorable program that generated a strong response from the nearly full house.

Yang fashioned a program he called “Mysterium” around the centenary of the death of Alexander Scriabin, yet another of the musical greats of the past who died far too soon (in his case, at age 43.) The interesting aspect of Yang’s program was that he combined works by Scriabin with works by Chopin and Liszt, showing that the line between early Romantic to mid-Romantic and the cusp of more modern music is not as long as one might think. MORE

Published February 3, 2015
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NYT: For John Adams, a Day of Music, Not Protests

New York Times | By Anthony Tommasini

About 24 hours before protests organized by various Jewish groups against the Metropolitan Opera’s production of John Adams’s “The Death of Klinghoffer” were anticipated to start at Lincoln Center, Mr. Adams was at Avery Fisher Hall on Sunday afternoon, conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale in a terrific concert.

There were no protests or disruptions of any kind on Sunday.

With this performance, part of the Yale in New York series, Mr. Adams wound up a week’s residency at the Yale School of Music, where he worked with students and prepared this concert, a program of Stravinsky’s “Orpheus,” Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony and his own 2012 piece, “Absolute Jest.” MORE

Published October 21, 2014
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Concert Review: John Adams with the Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale and the Brentano String Quartet

BlogCritics | By Jon Sobel

Composer John Adams‘s “Absolute Jest” riffs on Beethoven, particularly the scherzos of his glorious late quartets. In last night’s “Yale in New York” performance at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall by the Yale Philharmonia and the Brentano String Quartet conducted by Adams, Beethoven spoke through Adams’s fitful, inventive piece sometimes with a wink, sometimes with a good-natured shove. The orchestra and chamber ensemble flowed remarkably smoothly together. With Stravinsky also on the program as well as Beethoven himself, this top-rank student orchestra did all three composers proud.

After a helpful introduction in which the quartet played some of the Beethoven strains Adams uses in his piece, which premiered back in 2012, “Absolute Jest” began with ghostly calls from harp and bells, before building into a rhythmic fiesta. The most straightforward Beethoven quote came towards the end of the 23-minute work and derived from Beethoven’s final string quartet, the F Major Opus 145. My sense, though, is that one would need only a glancing familiarity with Beethoven and classical music in general to appreciate and enjoy “Absolute Jest” – maybe even as much as Adams appeared to love conducting it (and must have enjoyed writing it). MORE

Published October 20, 2014
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New York Times: If the Devil Taps You, Pretend You Didn’t Feel It

When Stravinsky wrote “The Soldier’s Tale,” his 1918 dramatic work that combines spoken text with a seven-piece chamber ensemble, he had in mind the touring puppet shows and playing troupes he encountered in the Russia of his youth. Over the years, when “The Soldier’s Tale” has been presented as a staged drama or a ballet, it has often been updated or mythologized. It is probably best known as a concert work, without its spoken text.

On Sunday night the Yale in New York series, now in its seventh season, presented a fresh, funny and aptly ominous staged production of “The Soldier’s Tale” at Zankel Hall, a collaboration between the Yale School of Music and the Yale School of Drama. MORE

Published April 8, 2014
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Review: Yale in New York, ‘The Soldier’s Tale’ @ Carnegie’s Zankel Hall

By Jon Sobel

With the centenary of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring safely behind us, there’s value in a reminder of the great variety of music the composer brought out through his long career before and after the Rite‘s riotous 1913 premiere. Yale in New York brought an enchanting new production of the dance-theater piece The Soldier’s Tale to Carnegie Hall’s downstairs hall last night, featuring Michael Cerveris in the key role of the Narrator and Yale drama students in the dancing/speaking roles.

Based on a Russian folk tale, and written in response to the dislocations of World War One, the work premiered in 1918 with text by C. F. Ramuz. With a bouncy, sometimes Seussian new translation by director Liz Diamond, the Yale production showed how accessible and amusing Stravinsky’s music could be–even before the 1920s ushered in what’s generally considered his “neoclassical” style. MORE

Published April 8, 2014
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New York Times: Violin Sonatas Suffuse Lent

New York Times
By Vivien Schweitzer

The Sonata No. 10 “The Crucifixion,” by the 17th-century virtuoso violinist Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, unfolds in a blaze of effects, beginning with slashing chords perhaps intended to depict the nailing of Jesus to the cross.

The violinist Daniel S. Lee offered a fleet-fingered, passionate interpretation of the work on Saturday at St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, part of Tenet’s TENEbrae series commemorating Lent.

The 18th-century English historian Charles Burney wrote that “of all the violin players of the last century, Biber seems to have been the best, and his solos are the most difficult and most fanciful of any music I have seen of the same period.” Biber composed a large catalog of instrumental and vocal music, but is largely remembered for his violin sonatas. MORE

Published March 24, 2014
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Album review: “Saving Mr. Banks” soundtrack

Thomas Newman

By John Stanley

In the 20 years that Alfred Newman (1901-70) was head of 20th Century Fox’s music department, he scored 200 movies, earned 45 Oscar nominations and took home nine Academy Awards. He also had a son. As of today, Thomas Newman has garnered 12 Oscar nominations of his own as a motion picture composer, but no wins. That could change March 2, when he’ll find out if his latest nomination — for the “Saving Mr. Banks” score — turns into gold.

Thomas’ music is alive with the kind of emotion his father (once described as the “godfather” of cinema soundtracks) brought to such films as “The Captain From Castile” and “How to Marry a Millionaire.” In telling the story about how Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) persuaded reluctant and mean-spirited author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to give him the movie rights to “Mary Poppins,” “Saving Mr. Banks” allowed Newman to re-create many of the songs brothers Richard and Robert Sherman wrote for the “Poppins” movie, presented in the new film as demo pieces[…] But there are also Newman’s original contributions, adding depth to the dramatic flashbacks of Travers’ alcoholic father and the introduction of the woman who would later inspire the Poppins character.


Published February 6, 2014
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Concert Review: Edson Scheid ’11 MM, ’12 AD with Juilliard415

The Strad
By Dennis Rooney

Concert Review: Edson Scheid, violin; Juilliard415; Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Alice Tully Hall, 4 November, 2013

Known to both Bach and Telemann,  Johann Georg Pisendel was an important 18th-century musician, leader of the Dresden Court Orchestra from 1730 until his death in 1755 and regarded as the leading German violinist of his day. He produced ten violin concertos. Nevertheless, he is an obscure figure to modern listeners, and this was my first encounter with his Violin Concerto in D major, performed by Edson Scheid [’11 MM, ’12 AD], a 29-year-old Brazilian who is currently pursuing a graduate diploma in historical performance at Juilliard. Formed in 2009,  Juilliard415 is that school’s principal period-instrument ensemble (named after the frequency of its tuning pitch), and it fielded 27 players at this concert, using a mix of period reproductions and a few modern instruments. MORE

Published February 5, 2014
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CD review: Sean Chen, piano, Crystal Award winner of Cliburn Competition

chen-sean-cdAudiophile Audition
Reviewed by Gary Lemco

To call Van Cliburn Competition winner Sean Chen’s performances of Brahms, Beethoven, and Bartok “crystalline” does more than make a pun, as you can hear for yourself.

Brahms: Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 21, No. 1; Beethoven: Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106, “Hammerklavier”; Bartók: Three Etudes, Op. 18. Harmonia mundi HMU 907607, 70:17, ****

Recorded in concert 24 May 9 June 2013 at Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth, Texas, this composite recital by Sean Chen celebrates his participation at the Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Chen has chosen three works from distinct musical periods and aesthetics that realize aspects of his own consummate musicianship, the variation principle tying the works together. MORE

Published January 7, 2014
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Feast of Music picks Yale in New York concert as a highlight of 2013

Feast of Music

Michael Cirigliano II, Content Editor at Feast of Music, selected the April 12 “Serenade and Metamorphosis” program as one of his three top performances of 2013.

Yale in New York at Zankel Hall
A mix of faculty, alumni, and current students from the Yale School of Music’s string program descended on Zankel Hall, giving an electrifying performance of Richard Strauss, Tchaikovsky, and composition alum Matthew Barnson’s new work, The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying. The evolution from Strauss’ post-World War II lament to Barnson’s ethereal whispers was delivered in a remarkably polished performance, led by violinist Ani Kavafian. The fact that the hall was less that half full will remain one of 2013’s greatest mysteries.


Published January 3, 2014
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