Faculty Recital: Mayron Tsong and Hee Song Joo
by Jeannette Fang
Maiori - Palazzo Mezzacapo
July 19, 2014
Saturday night's faculty recital was a study of the very different effects that intense concentration can bring to piano performance.
Hee Song Joo's focus was of a reflective nature, as if she were looking back at a certain significant moment and modulating it carefully in her mind. Reflective does not mean hazy, for there's a velvet density to her conceptions. You know how when you rub velvet the wrong way, it creates a unique pattern, distinct yet cut obviously from the same cloth? Such is the subtle consistency of her playing.
It seems that beauty for her is in the fine shades of color. The three short Chopin works that she played, the posthumous E minor Waltz, and the mazurkas no.2 and no.4 from op.24, worked well with this concept. They were specifically caught atmospheres that were maintained throughout. She followed with Ravel's La Valse, which had radiance and shimmer. It was clear that her priorities lay in the sweep and complexity of the sound rather than bombast.
Mayron Tsong made the transition into her portion of the program with the Scriabin preludes no.2 and no.9 of op.11. She shaped with sensitive nuance, with just the right amount ot time taken in order to taste each voluptuous moment. (Though "voluptuous" might be too purple of word; what I mean was that moments were savored, without lasciviousness.)
It was with the Prokofiev Sarcasms op.17 that Mayron's drive and energy became obvious. She played with aggression and spark, and with intensity behind every sound. She gave the impression that she was a tightly controlled coil of energy, gaining power by her adherence to rhythm. She continued with Rachmaninoff's Etudes tableaux op.33 no.2 and 3, and op.39 no.1, which she played with such clear dramatic arc and power that I was reminded of the Rock of Gibraltor, where the moments that she chose to unleash her power would crush and overwhelm like anvils. She ended her solo portion with Prokofiev's Toccata op.11, and one saw how her focus on continuous unbroken line and her sharp and highly defined contrasts were key towards understanding his music.
The two ended with the En bateau and Minuet from Debussy's Petite Suite, with Mayron sitting primo and Hee Sung secondo. It was a lovely idea to bring two very different players to the same table, illuminating for us that similarities don't always contribute to successful chamber music, and that differences are what cause players to listen even more intently and create a more complex and satisfying product.