Potent, intense performance from Jee-Hoon Yap '90
Works by Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.
Killian Hall, Friday, April 21.
Part of the Advanced Music Performance
By DAVID M. J. SASLAV
JEE-HOON YAP '90 WIELDS A NUMBER of potent pianistic tools that elicit art from her instrument; chief among them are a keen mind, a precise ear, and forearms of steel. In delivering up a selection by each of classical music's "Three B's," Yap brought out the architecture of a Bach dance suite, the playfulness of a middle-period Beethoven sonata, and the fiery poignancy in a set of Brahms variations. Having chosen as demanding a program as this, Yap proceeded to display remarkable versatility.
J. S. Bach's Partita No. 6 in E opened the recital, and Yap's depth of musical understanding carried her through some rough areas. It is in structure and symmetry that one finds deepest appreciation of Bach's works, and this performance paid respect to both. Within sections as well as between, Yap gave each line and each voice its proper formalistic dues. Particularly lively was the third movement, entitled Courant. Yap's scrutiny of the inner voices was well-focused, intense, and extraordinarily musical. Two miscues failed to rattle her.
Opening the spritely Sonata in F, Op. 54 of Beethoven, Yap's technique failed her at times, particularly when reaching for octave leaps in the right hand. Her strong left never faltered, though, and the first movement, labeled In Tempo d'un Menuetto, was a strong one in all important respects. The closing Allegretto (the sonata is in two movements) was the high point of the entire recital; Yap's thunderous fortes seemed utterly effortless, and her sudden pianissimos were intense. More importantly, Yap's treatment of the gradual crescendo and decrescendo was subtle and magical. A grand performance, both timely and fun.
Following the short intermission, Yap played Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Paganini. A fantastic work which combines the Sturm und Drang of Brahms' youth with the tender bliss he came to know, this work, more than most, taxes a pianist's expressive range, technique, and concentration. While Yap was more than up to the first two challenges, her concentration faltered at a couple of critical junctures; at these times, her musical momentum was all but eradicated. Fortunately, though, these moments were rare, and the overwhelming impression from this Paganini was one of power and youthful vitality.
The seeds of three tremendously important interpretations were evident in this afternoon of music; another year's study and development under new Music Section acquisition David Deveau cannot help but produce a polished, confident pianist of professional proportions. I await Yap's senior recital with great anticipation -- an exploration of music outside the high German repertoire may even better demonstrate her budding but considerable interpretive powers.