Music Academy Picnic Concert, presented by Academy Young Artists. At Abravanel Hall, Wednesday, August 9.
Reviewed by: Gerald Carpenter
This long, rewarding concert opened with two of the movements of Robert Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Opus 44 performed, with polish and sensitivity, by Karla Donehew and Jonathan Ong, violins; Sihua Zhang, viola; Matthew Zalkind, cello; and Han-Chien Lee, piano. The Schumann was followed, appropriately enough, by a dramatic and moving rendering of the vivace ma non troppo from Johannes Brahms’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Major, Opus 78 by the spectacular Lydia Hong, with Keun-A Lee on the piano.
The program then made one of several excursions into the exotic, with trumpeter Kathryn Miller conjuring up, with great feeling and agility, the vanished glories of America’s foremost cornetist, Herbert L. Clarke, by playing the Rondo caprice from his From the Mighty Shores of the Pacific. The gifted and nuanced playing of pianist Tatiana Vassilieva provided the safety net for Miller’s acrobatics before becoming, in the next selection, the supportive romantic orchestra to Whittney Thomas’s heart-rending viola solos in the Romance, Opus 11 by Antonín Dvořák; although written for violin, the piece sounded marvelous on a viola.
The first half closed with four works for percussion ensemble played by young artists David Bergman, Benjamin Winters, Montgomery Hatch, and Annie Stevens, with associate faculty member Fred Morgan. The first three pieces, by George Hamilton Green, managed to sound campy, postmodern, and doggedly earnest all at once. One loved them, with raised eyebrows. The last selection, by Bob Becker, was a more straightforward virtuoso showcase, and Annie Stevens, on xylophone, brought the house down.
The second half opened with a thrilling two movements from Ludwig Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in E-flat Major, Opus 12, No. 3, played by violinist Jennifer Cho and pianist Sunglee Victoria Choi. Then pianist Daria Rabotkina took us definitively over the top with the astonishingly spooky and distracted Sonata No. 4 in F-sharp Major, Opus 30, by Alexander Scriabin. The brilliant Ms. Rabotkina, scoreless, seemed to be virtually channeling the composer.
Brahms’s Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, Opus 108 came next, in a bravura romantic reading by Yu Xiong, with Sunglee Victoria Choi on piano. Schubert’s Auf dem Strom, D. 943, which followed, was equally romantic and three times as tuneful, and was beautifully brought to lyrical life by Todor Popstoyanov on horn, Alexander Reicher on trombone, with associate faculty Natasha Kislenko on piano.
The concert came to an end with movements 1, 2, and 5 from Prokofiev’s spiky, ultra-modern Quintet, Opus 39 performed with tremendous clarity and insight by Jamie Roberts, oboe; Lyle Wong, clarinet; Kyeo Woon Jeong, violin; Tyler Hokanson, viola; and Jens TenBroeck, double bass.