Weekend concert scene (Part 1): Pianists Jenny Lin, Stephanie Ho and Saar Ahuvia
The first of the concerts afforded me an opportunity to hear keyboard talents of considerable note in an exceedingly imaginative program. Saturday night's performance, part of the An die Musik Live series, was built around Bach, without actually any 100-percent authentic Bach being played. This was, in essence, a celebration of counterpoint and transcription.
The first half of the concert featured the Stephanie & Saar Duo. Stephanie Ho and Saar Ahuvia, who studied at Peabody, have been building a fine career built around duet and two-piano repertoire.
These well-matched artists found considerable expressive depth in Kurtag's version of the Sonatina from Bach's "Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit," and drew out the piquant imitation of organ sonorities in Kurtag's treatment of Bach's chorale "Durch Adams Fall." They also brought technical flourish to the C major Prelude and Fugue, BWV 545, originally composed for organ and transcribed by F. X. Gleichauf.
The rapport between Ho and Ahuvia was readily apparent throughout their portion of the program; their music-making placed added value on elegance and subtlety. The two were joined for one short Bach/Kurtag item by Jenny Lin, and the six hands at one piano produced delightful sonorities.
Lin, who also did some of her studies at Peabody, has established a significant presence in the piano world. She focused here on the Preludes and Fugues composed for piano by Shostakovich in homage to Bach. These works, too, deserve greater attention, and Lin, who has recorded all of them, is clearly equipped to be their champion.
She chose five for this program and created vivid experiences out of each, from the shadowy eloquence of No. 1 in C to the tense drama of No. 24 in D minor, which achieves a level of profundity equal to that in the greatest of Shostakovich's symphonies and chamber works. The pianist's handling of bravura outbursts was as confident and sure as her sensitive phrasing in more lyrical passages. She got deep behind the notes to extract the emotional heart.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF STEPHSAARDUO.COM and JENNYLIN.NET