Music and Opera reporting on is made possible by The University of North Texas College of Music.
Select the link below to discover more.

Review: Joyce Yang | Cliburn Concerts | Bass Performance Hall

No Two Look the Same

That describes the choices made by Joyce Yang, who again proved herself an exciting pianist to watch at Cliburn Concerts.

published Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Joyce Yang is well on her way to a major career. In a world of dime store piano virtuosi, all with impeccable technique, she seems like something out of Tiffany's special collection. She ponders her music and has a well thought- out reason for everything she does. If you are interested in her thought process when putting together this program, you can read it here. It is mystifying and logical; all at the same time.

This rare, stellar sheen was on display Tuesday when she took the stage for the Cliburn Concerts series at Bass Performance Hall, where she won the Silver medal in the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

This is not to say that everything she played was pristine. It wasn't. This is also not to say that all of her interpretations were definitive. They weren't. What this says is that she brought a unique voice to everything she played and that I am willing to offer Mitt Romney's $10,000 bet that she will play this exact same program differently as her thinking progresses and her musical mind matures.

I can hardly wait.

What she presented was a blindingly honest version of four masterpieces of the standard repertoire and one contemporary candidate for that exulted rank. It was like a photograph of her musical mind at this exact given moment, standing in front of a Rushmore with Debussy, Bach, Schubert and Schumann carved on the mountain instead of the familiar presidential faces. "This is what I think about these pieces right now," she communicated, "and don't hold me to it tomorrow."

This means that her version of the Bach Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D minor (BWV 903) had noticeable romantic leanings, to say the least. Far from the coolly clinical Bach that is more common these days, her version moved at a blindingly fast pace except when it didn't. She was as apt to rush things along as to pine over a resolution. The fugue started as though it was afraid even to begin the arduous journey ahead.

Claude Debussy's Estampes, Lowell Liebermann's unjustly marginalized Gargoyles Opus 29 and Robert Schumann's Fantasiestücke met a similar fate. All three sets of piano pieces are Technicolor in nature and Yang painted them even brighter. The fast was too fast and the slow was too slow, but it all made perfect sense in the context of Joyce Yang playing in the right now. Even her surprising encore, pianist Earl Wild's arrangement of George Gershwin's "The Man I love," smacked of originality.

Everything she played sounded new and different, even the old and tired. Schubert's Impromptu Op. 90 in G flat Major sounded, well, improvised. A little slurpy maybe, but so what? It's Romanticism at its zenith. All of her selections, well maybe not the Liebermann, have been trotted out on mind-numbing recital after recital and competition after competition. "Very nice" being the most common adjective.

With Yang, to revive Romney's bet, there will be controversy throughout her career. "Too slow," will say some. "Exaggerated" will mutter others. "Too fast" some will counter. "Too conservative." "Too many liberties." "Too too."


What this all boils down to is that Joyce Yang is wonderfully and exasperatingly Joyce Yang. She plays the repertoire with impeccable technique. But more importantly, she plays these pieces her way and makes no pretense that she will play them that way ever again.

That is the mark of true genius. Thanks For Reading

View the Article Slideshow
Click or Swipe to close
No Two Look the Same
That describes the choices made by Joyce Yang, who again proved herself an exciting pianist to watch at Cliburn Concerts.
by Gregory Sullivan Isaacs

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :