MEDIA ARCHIVE

REVIEW: Works by Lei Liang and Pierre Jalbert make triumphant premieres at SummerFest

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Christian Hertzog
August 17, 2018

Over his 18 years as director of La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest, Cho-Liang “Jimmy” Lin has brought important composers to La Jolla and has discerningly commissioned new works for the festival.

Tuesday evening, on a program featuring Turina, Debussy, Mahler and Ginastera, Lin’s most recent commission was happily premiered: “Vis-à-vis” for percussionist Steven Schick and Wu Man, a virtuoso on the pipa (China’s version of the lute). It was composed by UC San Diego professor Lei Liang.

On the stage at Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, Wu Man and Schick were separated by 7 or 8 feet, a bit puzzling for a work whose title means “Face-to-face.” Wu Man began alone with an arresting, tart chord that slowly accelerated into a dramatic cut-off. Schick answered this with a loud cascade of notes. The musical back-and-forth that ensued made clear that the title referred more to a metaphorical conversation than physical proximity.

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REVIEW: Works by Lei Liang and Pierre Jalbert make triumphant premieres at SummerFest 2018-08-17T14:55:40+00:00

REVIEW: Pushing the Envelope, Enticing New Music at La Jolla SummerFest

San Diego Story
Ken Herman
August 17, 2018

The amount and quality of contemporary music featured in this season’s La Jolla SummerFest, Music Director Cho-Liang Lin’s valedictory year, has been astonishing. Last week the FLUX Quartet presented an entire evening of bracing avant-garde offerings, included the premiere of Rand Steiger’s “Tropes,” commissioned by the FLUX Quartet. The following night FLUX returned to offer the La Jolla Music Society’s commission, Toshi Ichiyanagi’s String Quartet No. 5.

On Tuesday, August 14, at the heart of a program featuring Lin’s favorites, we experienced Lei Liang’s showstopping “Vis-à-vis” for Pipa and Percussion, yet another premiere of a commission by the La Jolla Music Society. Then on Thursday, August 16, Lin brought back French composer Marc-André Dalbavie’s stunning Quartet for Piano and Strings, a La Jolla Music Society commission premiered here in 2012, and paired it with Pierre Jalbert’s 2017 Piano Quintet, which the La Jolla Music Society co-commissioned with two other arts organizations.

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REVIEW: Pushing the Envelope, Enticing New Music at La Jolla SummerFest 2018-08-17T14:51:26+00:00

REVIEW: A Sumptuous Banquet of Lin’s Favorites at La Jolla SummerFest

San Diego Story
Ken Herman
August 15, 2018

San Diego chamber music lovers could easily come up with a dozen reasons why they will miss Cho-Liang Lin when he leaves the La Jolla Music Society after 18 seasons as the SummerFest Music Director. Reason number one on my list, however, is Lin’s brilliant programming, that keen insight that assembled the complementary variety of styles and exhilarating caliber of music-making displayed on Tuesday’s (Aug. 14) SummerFest concert at UC San Diego’s Prebys Concert Hall.

Lin assembled an embarrassment of riches, each amazing piece raising the bar yet another notch, from the warmth and allure of Joaquin Turina’s Escena Andaluza that opened the concert, to Claude Debussy’s profound yet unsentimental Cello Sonata, to Lei Liang’s extravagantly exciting new commissioned piece “Vis-à-vis” for Pipa and Percussion, to Gustav Mahler’s transcendent Rückert-Lieder song cycle to Alberto Ginestera’s breathtaking String Quartet No. 1.

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REVIEW: A Sumptuous Banquet of Lin’s Favorites at La Jolla SummerFest 2018-08-15T16:47:00+00:00

PREVIEW: Guitar ace John Pizzarelli returns with his jazz trio for SummerFest concert

San Diego Union-Tribune
George Varga
August 13, 2018

John Pizzarelli’s stellar jazz credits are a matter of record. So are his pop, rock and soul credits.

The guitar ace has recorded on albums by Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Roberta Flack, Solomon Burke and other greats.

That versatility has enabled Pizzarelli to stand out whether performing with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees McCartney and Taylor or trading fleet lines with such jazz luminaries as pianists Monty Alexander and Ramsey Lewis.

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PREVIEW: Guitar ace John Pizzarelli returns with his jazz trio for SummerFest concert 2018-08-13T12:31:29+00:00

REVIEW: At SummerFest, virtuosic Flux Quartet successfully premieres engaging works by Ichiyanagi and Steiger

San Diego Union-Tribune
Christian Hertzog
August 12, 2018

La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest may be associated with Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart, but under the curation of Cho-Liang “Jimmy” Lin, it’s also been a showcase for some of our best living composers.

On Thursday and Friday evenings in Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, the Flux Quartet premiered two intriguing string quartets by Toshi Ichiyanagi and UC San Diego professor Rand Steiger.

Ichiyanagi was well known in American contemporary music circles in the 1960s as John Cage’s foremost Japanese disciple. But in the ’70s, he returned to traditionally notated music and in due time incorporated literal repetition into his music — a cardinal sin for Modernism. Perhaps not coincidentally, his music received fewer performances in the United States.

Commissioned for SummerFest, his String Quartet No. 5 made its world premiere Friday evening — performed by the Flux Quartet and making a guest appearance in a concert with ultra-conservative compositions by Dvorak and Max Bruch. It’s a substantial work: three movements in roughly 18 minutes.

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REVIEW: At SummerFest, virtuosic Flux Quartet successfully premieres engaging works by Ichiyanagi and Steiger 2018-08-13T09:14:31+00:00

REVIEW: The FLUX Quartet, SummerFest’s Powerful Champions of the Avant Garde

San Diego Story
Ken Herman
August 10, 2018

As a salute to the UC San Diego Department of Music, SummerFest’s host for most of the 2018 music festival’s concerts, Music Director Cho-Liang Lin featured two of the university’s resident composers in his festival’s annual program of contemporary music. Rand Steiger’s new work “Tropes” and Lei Liang’s 2005 “Serashi Fragments” communicated that austere, under-the-microscope, post-serial intensity that UC San Diego composers have championed ever since Bernard Rands left for Harvard and Roger Reynolds ascended the compositional throne in the 1980s.

Lin wisely engaged the FLUX Quartet to deliver this formidable program, which they accomplished with zeal and evident relish, spurred by the edgy, resonant sonority of Felix Fan’s insistent cello and Max Mandel’s unrelenting viola. FLUX Quartet is America’s brawny answer to Britain’s effete Arditti Quartet.

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REVIEW: The FLUX Quartet, SummerFest’s Powerful Champions of the Avant Garde 2018-08-15T16:44:47+00:00

REVIEW: Leonard Bernstein, a Family Remembrance at La Jolla SummerFest

San Diego Story
Ken Herman
August 10, 2018

Even if the classical music community were not observing Leonard Bernstein’s centennial year, Nina Bernstein Simmons’ program “Late Night with Leonard Bernstein” would have provided a well-spent evening. The late musician’s youngest daughter narrated an affectionate memoir of her father, expanded with performances of a cache of Bernstein’s shorter, earlier compositions and other music he loved performed on the Conrad Prebys Concert Hall stage by pianists John Musto and Michael Boriskin and soprano Amy Burton.

For the daughter, “late night” meant either Bernstein taking command of rollicking Manhattan parties, playing and improvising at the piano for a roomful of adoring guests into the wee hours of the morning or the solitary composer working late at his craft with no one to distract him. For those of us who know more than a little of the Bernstein biography, “late night with Leonard Bernstein” conjures other activities, although none of these crept into the narrative, even by oblique allusion.

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REVIEW: Leonard Bernstein, a Family Remembrance at La Jolla SummerFest 2018-08-15T16:39:41+00:00

PREVIEW: For his final SummerFest, Cho-Liang Lin compiles an adventurous ‘Playlist’ of his favorite works

San Diego Union-Tribune
Beth Wood
August 8, 2018

Because this season of La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest is Cho-Liang “Jimmy” Lin’s last as music director, all the concerts will have special resonance to them. But there’s one that will likely stand out.

In curating “My Favorite Playlist,” which will be performed Tuesday at Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, Lin was especially adventurous in his selections.

“I love this program,” he said, speaking from Chamber Music Northwest in Portland last month. “It’s not your meat-and-potatoes Beethoven and Mozart concert. It’s really something unusual. And all the musicians are truly first-class. I’m excited to be in the audience for this concert.”

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PREVIEW: For his final SummerFest, Cho-Liang Lin compiles an adventurous ‘Playlist’ of his favorite works 2018-08-09T09:12:25+00:00

REVIEW: Mendelssohn Quintet shines in SummerFest’s ‘Music from the Heart’

San Diego Union-Tribune
Marcus Overton
August 8, 2018

Felix Mendelssohn was not content merely to accept music as he found it (and he found it early, composing brilliant string symphonies before he entered his teens, and a masterpiece — the Octet for Strings — before he turned 20). Before his too-early death, at 38 in 1847, he had grabbed music by the throat and decisively changed the course of the art form as a conductor, educator, administrator and performer.

In a way, Mendelssohn is still with us, dropping buzz-bombs of energy wherever a group of dedicated musicians open a window into the past and show us that great art, no matter how old, is always new.

That’s what happened on Tuesday evening at La Jolla Music Society SummerFest’s “Music from the Heart” concert when violinists Paul Huang and Anna Lee, violists Tien Hsien Cindy Wu and Heiichiro Ohyama, and cellist Hai-Ye Ni came onstage in UC San Diego’s Conrad Prebys Concert Hall and set the place on fire with Mendelssohn’s Opus 87 String Quintet.

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REVIEW: Mendelssohn Quintet shines in SummerFest’s ‘Music from the Heart’ 2018-08-08T15:04:56+00:00

REVIEW: La Jolla SummerFest Opens with a Sophisticated Musical Menagerie

San Diego Story
Ken Herman
August 5, 2018

This season of La Jolla SummerFest brings down the curtain on Music Director Cho-Liang Lin’s superb 18-year tenure with the festival. From the evidence of Friday’s (August 3) opening night concert at UC San Diego’s Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, he is not leaving quietly.

At the heart of this luxurious chamber program—which began with Béla Bartók’s overwhelming “Contrasts” for clarinet, violin, and piano and ended with the entertaining Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns—we heard two of the Heitor Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras suites, No. 1 and No. 5. Although the composer’s fame rests heavily on these suites that fuse elements of Brazilian folk music with Bachian counterpoint, aficionados rarely hear them live because each requires eight cellists.

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REVIEW: La Jolla SummerFest Opens with a Sophisticated Musical Menagerie 2018-08-08T14:51:07+00:00