Chee-yun plays Saint-Saens – Louis Luangkesorn

I had been looking forward to this since I found out that Chee-Yun  was coming as soloist.  I had been to Chee-Yun’s chamber recital when she came to Pittsburgh in April 2005 as part of the Pittsburgh Symphony Chamber Orchestra series at Katz Performing Arts Center in Squirrel Hill.  I remember then being impressed with her audience rapport, not just in her playing, but her audience interaction.  In the absense of program notes, she had introduced each piece verbally then.  While it may be tempting for a school trained musician to give a technical introduction she chose to be more creative, with a mix of history and gentle description of themes.  While I was not expecting the same in this setting, I was looking forward to hearing her again.

The performance itself did not disappoint.  The beginning of the
Saint-Saens concerto with the low foundation of violin and timpani just
built up the anticipation for her entrance.  I have an old recording of
Chee-Yun playing the Saint-Saens, back from 1997, and this was another
of those instances where the benefits of hearing the music live were
apparent.  Lively in places, flowing in others.  Hearing the interplay
between soloist and orchestra, both when one is providing a foundation,
and when the parts weave throughout.  As much as I enjoy my recordings,
the sound of a live hall with an acoustic range much better then any
sound system was remarkable (including the aforementioned violin and
timpani roll to open the piece, which I had never heard in the same way
before.)

During the intermission I went to the CD signing.  In front of me
were a few  boys whose mother was on the side, encouraging them to go
up and ask for her autograph.  At Chee-Yun’s recital two years ago a
PSO volunteer had arranged for a meet and greet with a number of high
school and college students.  While there are a number of highly
talented musicians of the quality that can play with major orchestras
like the PSO, there are few who can combine talent and skill with the
ability to make the music seem like a part of life worth having, and as
something that can enchant, enthrall and captivate.  And watching
Chee-Yun handle questions from these young musicians about music and
life with liveliness and grace I’m convinced she is one of them.

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Mar 6