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
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.