Oxana Yablonskaya - Summit Music Festival

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Donald Isler
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Oxana Yablonskaya - Summit Music Festival

Post by Donald Isler » Tue Jul 27, 2021 9:02 pm

Oxana Yablonskaya, Pianist
Summit Music Festival
Thornwood, New York

July 26th, 2021

Gluck/Sgambati: Melody from Orfeo
Mendelssohn: Seven Songs Without Words
Oxana Yablonskaya, Pianist

Chopin: Introduction and Rondo in E-Flat Major, Op. 16
Tetiana Shafran, Pianist

Chopin: Seven Mazurkas
Oxana Yablonskaya, Pianist


Last night I had great pleasure for two reasons:

1) I heard a concert at a music festival which I have been attending for years, and missed very much last year when everything was shut down.

Also:

2) I finally got to hear a major artist whose name I knew for years, but whom I had never before heard in concert.

It is to the great credit of Summit Festival Founders and Directors, Efrem Briskin and David Krieger, that they were able to make it "happen" this year, after all the problems caused by Covid. Summit is a place where gifted musicians of all ages, from young prodigies to distinguished masters, study, teach and perform. It did seem a bit strange to have my temperature checked when I arrived for the concert. Also, everyone but the performers wore masks throughout the program. But it was well worth dealing with these things. I hope to be able to attend a few more events there during the next week and a half that the Festival runs.

The other great pleasure of the evening was to hear, for the first time, pianist Oxana Yablonskaya. According to Wikipedia she is 82 years old, grew up and studied in Russia, and taught for 30 years at Juilliard. She now lives primarily in Israel. I knew of her reputation as a virtuosa who plays the most difficult repertoire. And, indeed, I was told that earlier in the day she had conducted a marvelous master class, easily tossing off excerpts from a Rachmaninoff concerto, and Scriabin works to demonstrate her points. But that was not the type of repertoire she played on this occasion.

For this program she selected the beautiful Sgambati transcription of Gluck's Melody from Orfeo, seven Songs Without Words of Mendelssohn, and seven mazurkas of Chopin.

In between the Mendelssohn and the Chopin mazurkas a young pianist named Tetiana Shafran, apparently a student of Ms. Yablonskaya (there was no biographical information available), played the only "blockbuster" of the evening, the little-known Introduction and Rondo, Op. 16, by Chopin. The only pianist whose performance of it I have heard is Horowitz, who played it at two recitals I attended in 1974. (One can also hear him play it on Youtube, from a recording made at that time.) Ms. Shafran played the numerous brilliant sections with ease, and has a very good understanding of the style of this music. If she doesn't have quite the panache and the sonic range of Horowitz (and, who does??!!) she gave a very impressive performance.

The rest of the program was performed by Ms. Yablonskaya. She is a WONDERFUL artist! There are SO many things that she does just right. From the beginning, in the Gluck, one heard that she understands how to make a melody sing above the accompaniment, which is softer by just the right proportions. EVERYTHING she played had thought, and emotion behind it. The second of the Songs Without Words, in C Minor, was both mischievous and dramatic. The third, in G Minor, was tumultuous, while the sixth one was energetic.

The Mazurkas were no less effective. The second was pleading, patient and, at times, exquisite. The third, in B-Flat Major, was rollicking, with a triumphant conclusion. And the others were just as impressive.

Some people may think the Mendelssohn Songs and these Mazurkas are "small" pieces. WRONG! When played like this, one realizes they are whole worlds in themselves. (And, as another pianist known for playing mazurkas, Marjan Kiepura, once pointed out "Chopin worked just as hard on them as on anything else he wrote.")

Another factor one can't avoid noticing is imagination. There were so many subtleties, colorations and surprises in Ms. Yablonskaya's playing that I was constantly hearing new things in music that I thought I knew!

This is a marvelous artist I hope to hear again!

Donald Isler
Donald Isler

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Re: Oxana Yablonskaya - Summit Music Festival

Post by Ricordanza » Wed Jul 28, 2021 9:36 am

Thanks for this review, Don. Her name is familiar to me based on a wonderful 1994 recording of Schubert/Liszt Song Transcriptions.

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lennygoran
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Re: Oxana Yablonskaya - Summit Music Festival

Post by lennygoran » Wed Jul 28, 2021 9:56 am

Donald Isler wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 9:02 pm
Summit Music Festival
Thornwood, New York
Last night I had great pleasure for two reasons:
Donald glad you enjoyed it-Sue and I have gotten to Westchester County alot over the years but I have to admit I never even heard of Thornwood and also not the Summit Music Festival. Looking at a map of the area I saw they also showed the Amadeus Conservatory of Music. Regards, Len

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Re: Oxana Yablonskaya - Summit Music Festival

Post by Lance » Wed Sep 08, 2021 11:51 pm

Don, I am so glad you could attend some of these performances. I am not familiar with the Summit Music Festival. Regarding Oxana Yablonskaya, I have long enjoyed her art and have many of her recordings [BelAir, Naxos, Brilliant, Discover, and ProPiano labels] and treasure them. Yablonskaya has the extraordinary pianistic talent of another of my favourite Russian-area pianists: Elisso Virsaladze. Also, I completely concur with you about the Songs Without Words of Felix Mendelssohn!
Donald Isler wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 9:02 pm
Oxana Yablonskaya, Pianist
Summit Music Festival
Thornwood, New York

July 26th, 2021

Gluck/Sgambati: Melody from Orfeo
Mendelssohn: Seven Songs Without Words
Oxana Yablonskaya, Pianist

Chopin: Introduction and Rondo in E-Flat Major, Op. 16
Tetiana Shafran, Pianist

Chopin: Seven Mazurkas
Oxana Yablonskaya, Pianist

[... ...]
The rest of the program was performed by Ms. Yablonskaya. She is a WONDERFUL artist! There are SO many things that she does just right. From the beginning, in the Gluck, one heard that she understands how to make a melody sing above the accompaniment, which is softer by just the right proportions. EVERYTHING she played had thought, and emotion behind it. The second of the Songs Without Words, in C Minor, was both mischievous and dramatic. The third, in G Minor, was tumultuous, while the sixth one was energetic.

The Mazurkas were no less effective. The second was pleading, patient and, at times, exquisite. The third, in B-Flat Major, was rollicking, with a triumphant conclusion. And the others were just as impressive.

Some people may think the Mendelssohn Songs and these Mazurkas are "small" pieces. WRONG! When played like this, one realizes they are whole worlds in themselves. (And, as another pianist known for playing mazurkas, Marjan Kiepura, once pointed out "Chopin worked just as hard on them as on anything else he wrote.")

Another factor one can't avoid noticing is imagination. There were so many subtleties, colorations and surprises in Ms. Yablonskaya's playing that I was constantly hearing new things in music that I thought I knew!

This is a marvelous artist I hope to hear again!

Donald Isler
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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