The Sarasota Concert Association’s first performer of the season called in sick a couple of months ago, so violinist Chee-Yun and pianist Jeewon Park rode in on their white horses to save the day.
Chee-Yun, a prize-winning violinist who’s been with the illustrious Young Concert Artists and studied with Dorothy DeLay at Juilliard, has made a major career since her first U.S. appearance at the age of 13 with the New York Philharmonic in a Young People’s Concert.
Park, who holds degrees from both Juilliard and Yale, is a master of the piano, offering support to her musical partner while taking good advantage of her own virtuosic skills at the keyboard. She’s a wonderful soloist in her own right, but she doesn’t step on any musical toes — a great trait in a chamber-music colleague.
The pair’s playing of the Beethoven “Kreutzer” and the Brahms D minor, Opus 108 sonatas was not only exquisite, it was sensuous, colorful and personal. They made the music their own without spoiling the intent of the composers. The word that kept coming to mind over and over as they played was “cantabile.” They sang the phrases.
Chee-Yun’s interpretation of the well-known Bach “Chaconne” for solo violin showed her to be as much of a performer as a serious musician, making good use of her virtuosity without any of the glitz or mannerisms to which so many other violinists resort. And the pair’s encores — the gorgeous “Song Without Words,” by Charles Wadsworth, and the fiery “Zigeunerweisen,” by Sarasate — showed their consummate musicianship and technical prowess.
It was a recital where showmanship and skill stood side-by-side without detracting from each other. Even Chee-Yun’s tendency to talk a bit too much was welcomed, because what she said was both charming and enlightening, so we had as much fun as she and her pianist seemed to be having.
— June LeBell
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