Prokofiev, Cello Concerto, Chang/Pappano/LSO
Shostakovich, Cello Concerto No.1, Sonata, Chang/Pappano/LSO
Shostakovich’s Cello Sonata, which Ms. Chang recently recorded along with the concerto and to much acclaim, came next and was oddly situated between the lyrical and its mercilessly driving forces that hint to the Shostakovich of later years to come. That position is of course the very nature of the beast… but it is the performer’s duty to weld it all together. To get all the romantic material out in all its beauty and make the subtly troubled, repetitive phrases not stick out as alien. A lack of aggression was hardly the problem (certainly not on the cello’s part) – a more mechanically steady pulse might have bridged the cleavage between those elements in the Allegro non troppo. The clean separation of the two moods within and Scherzo assured that all the performers’ qualities emerged unadulterated. The bright-eyed, bushy-tailed final Allegro, where Mr. Tiempo proved his immense skill and musicality more than any other part of the recital, was a joy with all its extravagance, quirky humor, coarse irregularities… fiery beyond the call of duty. Quibbles or not as there may have been room for, the Shostakovich achieved two things: It made you lust for what she’d do with Prokofiev and made such an impression that it nearly eradicated the memory of the Schumann from just minutes before.
Daniel Ginsberg, Han-Na Chang: Her Technique Is Now Just One Facet to Marvel At (Washington Post, December 11)
The Largo’s short, soft kiss, with a breathy (unsteady), longing, last note, is quite different: The strengths of brevity well coupled with warm expressiveness. The Finale, achingly individualistic, left one excited, perhaps, but confused as to why. A jump of 17 years back from the 1846 sonata shows a very different, 19-year-old Chopin in the Introduction and Polonaise Brillante, op.3. ‘Quaint’ might be the right word. Even if in a flashy way. But then Ms. Chang tackles all that is before her with such keen vigor and in such a strident way that little quaintness is allowed to survive. Quenching every bit from this gaily entertaining Chopin, beauty of tone took yet again a back-seat to impressiveness, size of tone, and unmasked energy. If that is a calculated trade-off and the audience’s reaction a good measure, it paid off nicely, indeed. And then, as if she had sensed the above-described lust, she gave a movement from the Prokofiev sonata as an encore. Sublime.