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DANIEL HSU: Pied Piper of Changsha, or Stanger in a Strange Land?

Daniel Hsu, Piano Changsha Music Hall
9 June 2018, 8:00


CONCERT REVIEW:
On a recent pleasure, business, and culinary tour of China, I had a lovely week in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province. As in many large Chinese cities, Changsha has a striking, new, architecturally grand and modern Music Hall. And while fine performances by touring virtuosi playing traditional Chinese instruments are now regular in the U.S., and as well, music conservatories worldwide are flush with talented Chinese classical musicians, no Chinese music or performers were on the docket during my visit. In fact, and not unexpected, it is Western classical music soloists and ensembles who dominate the event calendars of the great Chinese performance venues. And so, on a Saturday night, here on the Far Side of the Northern Hemisphere from home, I headed for the Changsha Music Hall, to hear the Chinese debut of 2017 Cliburn Bronze Medalist and California native, Daniel Hsu, performing music that I know well and l…
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REVEALING DEVASTATION and EXALTED REVELATION

"I hope that the piece (On the Transmigration of Souls) will summon human experience that goes beyond this particular event (9/11)." ~ John Adams
"Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." ~ Ludwig van Beethoven
Tucson Symphony Orchestra – 6 April 2018

A very sweet finale to the remarkable Inaugural Season of Music Director, José Luis Gomez, was set up by the programming of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the 'Ode to Joy'. And, in fact, the exhilarating success of this concert went beyond, with few exceptions, the expectations of even the most ardent local fanatics. Two perspectives dominated my experience here. One, the outstanding, if not definitive, rendition of Adams' 'On the Transmigration of Souls', was literally shocking. The orchestral sonorites, many intentionally harsh or seething, were yet always generously rendered and sensuous. The sheer mastery, by the Tucson Symphonic Chorus and the Arizona Boys Chorus, was breath…

Going out in Rare Style: A CRUSHING TRAGEDY and THE ULTIMATE TRIUMPH OF THE SPIRIT

"Modern people have learned all too well how to keep our emotions in check, and to mask them with humor or irony. Music has a singular capacity to unlock those controls and bring us face to face with our raw, uncensored and unattenuated feelings." ~ John Adams
"If death comes before I can develop all my artistic faculties, I should probably wish it came later - yet even then I shall be happy. For will it not deliver me from a state of endless suffering?" "Music is the mediator between the spirit and the senses." ~ Ludwig van Beethoven

CONCERT PREVIEW for March 6th & 8th, 2018
The TUCSON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA is going to end the season on a very high note, indeed. "Ü-ber Ster-nen muß er woh-nen" (He must dwell beyond the stars!): the 'ODE TO JOY', Beethoven's 9th Symphony. The opening number, on the other hand, 'ON THE TRANSMIGRATION OF SOULS', by John Adams, is a powerful, early attempt to help us heal, in the stark numbing af…

Exciting Tales Bookend Rhapsodic Russian Romances

Friday, 16 February 2018, was a triumphant evening for the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. In fact, it was a victory for ALL inhabitants of this dry, dusty, Sonoran Desert town, as a long, slow, lightly-foggy drizzle blanketed this Old Pueblo, yielding our first significant accumulation of precipitation in over six months – salvation at last! This gift from above was deeply appreciated, though it turned us concert-goers into a trail of snails, slogging through downtown's construction muck to get into the TCC Music Hall. And while the start time was intentionally delayed, the action on stage was well worth the wait.
Regarding 'LUMINOSITY'S WITNESS': Hailed in advance by Maestro José Luis Gomez for its orchestration and narrative, 'Luminosity's Witness', by 23-year-old composer Anthony Constantino, delivered an enlightening trek through a striking array of well-judged, unusual sonorities. This first ever premier of an orchestral work by a TSO Young Composers Project…

RÉMI GENIET, Solo Piano Recital

Sunday, 25 February, 2018, 3:00 PM Berger Performing Arts Center - Tucson, AZ

RÉMI GENIET, PIANO - Sunday, 25 February, 2018, 3:00 PM
Arizona Friends of Chamber Music - Piano and Friends
Berger Performing Arts Center - Tucson, AZ PREVIEW:
For this latest round of young guns – up and coming piano virtuosi in their mid-20s – there is more or less of a formula for programming their solo recitals. It goes like this: 1) open with a romantic transcription of Bach; 2) play a Classical Era masterpiece, up through Beethoven, preferably bravura; 3) place the meatiest content just after Intermission, and; 4) breathe fire in the finale. That was the strategy of Behzod Abduraimov (26 years old, at the time) in October, 2016 – the last AFCM 'Piano and Friends' soloist – and will be again this Sunday, when French prodigy Rémi Geniet (age, 25) takes his seat at the Steinway 'D'. If the piano virtuoso only gets one shot, and we only get one listen, this formula perfect; it is flawless. The…

BITTERSWEET MAGIC and a BROKEN COVENANT

This concert -- Beethoven's Fidelio Overture, the 'Adagio' from Mahler's 10th Symphony, and Bernstein's 'Kaddish', Symphony #3, on Friday, January 19th, 2018 -- was utterly fantastic; one for the books for the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

Regarding the Mahler...
Not meaning to gush or ingratiate, here; Maestro José Luis Gomez gave an extremely thoughtful, penetrating, emotional, and fully engaged reading of the haunting, churning, surreal, 'Adagio' from Mahler's 10th Symphony. Mahler juxtaposes seemingly irreconcilable antinomies; lighthearted street dancing alternates with a Soul being torn asunder by implacable undertow. In this performance, it all made sense. The unaccompanied viola-section-only opening melody, and all of its otherworldly and inner-worldly manifestations, were generously, carefully, and powerfully sculpted and expressed. Then, when the episodes of playful, rhythmic, descending, embellished trills appeared, Gomez let them go freel…

Violinist BENJAMIN BEILMAN Enchants in Tucson

If music is magic, this sorcerer's ruse commenced with a facade of easy pastels, pleasantly drawn with facile dexterity. Then, without warning, sharp arrows begin piercing the canvass, as darker realities emerge from below... Such was the spell cast by Benjamin Beilman, the 27-year-old violinist, in collaboration with pianist Anna Polonsky, in the opening concert of the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music 2017-2018 season, October 15, 2017. Of course, music is not really magic – at least not of that variety – but an in-the-moment expression of an interpretive artist's cumulative experience of a composer's ideas. The admirable constants of Beilman's performance here were a strongly projected full tone and a penetrating delivery. All cresting waves, calm waters, and dark depths were explored from a very even keel – a captivating journey from beginning to close.          The most balanced crafting of contrasting emotions arrived immediately with Beethoven's Piano and Viol…