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Imagery inspires artistry of pianist Yang
BY STEVEN MARK / firstname.lastname@example.org
Joyce Yang, an island favorite, is back for solo and chamber music concerts in Honolulu to close out a year that has featured many great piano performances.
Her two concerts here last year featured beautiful, textured artistry and emotional depth as well as a charming stage presence. Since then she has produced a CD, “Collage,” a collection of classic and contemporary works that “don’t seem to go together on paper but, heard back to back, give life to each other,” Yang said.
Where: Orvis Auditorium, University of Hawaii at Manoa
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9
Info: www.hmta.org or 780-3194
Also: Yang performs Poulenc’s Sextet and Schumann’s Piano Quintet with Chamber Music Hawaii at 7:30 p.m. Monday, at the Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Museum of Art; $30-$35, 489-5038 or chambermusichawaii.org.
The CD, called “a brave and challenging debut” by the Independent, was a collaboration with artist Joan Snyder as an expression of what Yang calls “synesthesia” — her tendency to visualize music.
Yang was suffering from a severe case of tonsillitis, so she answered questions via email, excerpted here:
Star-Advertiser: You enjoy chatting about your program with the audience. It helps us listeners, but how about you as a performer?
Yang: I like to think that the audience comes to see my recitals to hear the magnificent composition and to hear what I have to say about them. I think the second part mainly comes through my actual performance — but I do think it helps to know my thoughts. I try to stay away from a music history lesson — speaking only about the way I see and hear the piece — so that we are instantly on the same page. Speaking in front of a crowd gives me the illusion that I am playing for my friends in my living room.
Q: Any important “firsts” (new venue, new work) this year?
A: I feel like my life is full of “firsts.” Even if I return to a familiar venue — something always seems new. However, I must say the stage is a familiar place no matter where I am — a place where all my senses come alive and I face myself and all my intuition again. I am always amazed at how my senses start to interact and respond spontaneously to each other. I almost always end up doing something I didn’t expect to do (musically speaking).
Q: You’re doing solo and chamber music concerts here on Oahu. For the solo concert, you’re going from Scarlatti, a harpsichord composer, to Chopin, the ultimate piano composer, to a rather dissonant Bartok. Your chamber music concert shows similar contrasts. How did these programs came together?
A: The chamber music programs were decided amongst my chamber partners. The Schumann quintet has a place in the center of my heart — whereas the Poulenc is brand new to me. I am excited to be playing these pieces with Chamber Music Hawaii.
As for the solo repertoire — the program is truly all over the place. We are introduced to incredibly different sets of pieces with vivid colors and raw texture.
I wanted to treat the four Scarlatti sonatas as a four-movement sonata to start things off. They are charming, elegant and coquettish. They are compact yet asymmetrical, which I feel is almost the exact opposite of the Chopin Nocturnes — the ultimate nostalgic melody flooding out of a timeless background.
The Bartok combines the two opposite worlds and everywhere in between. There are drums and pipes, strange bug noises, fireflies lighting up the night and a fierce chase between forest creatures.