Sunday night I went to Chatham college for a piano quartet. I have met Yeeha Chiu on a couple of occasions and I have heard her on the piano in the past. So when a common friend passed on word she was playing that night along with several PSO musicians in a chamber recital I was looking forward to going.
The concert was at the Chatham College Laughlin Music Center, right
behind the Chatham chapel. As I went into the front room, I was struck
by the open space and the tall windows facing east and west. With the
piano in the middle of the east side, it had the feeling of the type of
a place an 18th century patron would entertain in, and that the music
was written with a setting and audience like this in mind. I picked a
seat on the left side of the audience, and was joined by a lady who
also knew Yeeha and wanted a good look at her playing the piano. (I
was there on my own, no girlfriend this weekend)
The first piece was PSO cellist Hampton Mallory and Yeeha on piano
playing Mendelssohn Sonata in D Major. Just before playing, Yeeha gave
a small introduction, including letting us know of a few points where
we should note what was happening in the music. As Hampton and Yeeha
played, they went through a wide range of interactions, where their
parts wove between each other, call and response, trading lead and
support. As promised, there were points were the cello took on the
plucking style of a guitar, and the themes of christian hymn and jewish
prayer came through.
The second half of the program was Brahms Quartet in C Minor for
Piano and Strings. Hampton and Yeeha were joined by PSO musicians
Dennis O’Boyle (violin) and Marylene Gingras-Roy (viola). And like the
Mendelssohn piece, we were treated to a wide range of interactions as
the score led them through a wide range of pairings of instruments, of
themes being passed between and among the parts, and the feel of a
group of musicians enjoying the opportunity to play.
The intimate setting of the Laughlin Music Center is very different
then Heinz Hall or Katz Auditorium. Here I watched Yeeha’s hands
command a keyboard with strength, Hampton’s face in rapt concentration,
even his breathing as he played the Mendelssohn, Dennis and Marylene
playing in the front. This close, I not only heard the music, I heard
their breathing, saw their eyes, the expressions on their faces, and
looks of concentration and joy. During intermission and at the
reception afterwords I chatted with my new companion, the couple in
front of us, and musicians and guests, sharing in our enjoyment of the
music and the venue.
A delightful evening with kudos to Chatham College for being
gracious hosts in a venue that was almost designed for this occasion.
And our four musicians, for letting us join them.