(When I was a freelance contributor to the Los Angeles Times in the late 80s and 90s, I must have written hundreds of short concert reviews like the one below — 6 to 8 column inches in length. It’s an interesting challenge, writing so short, and I think I became fairly skilled at it. At any rate, note that this review, from 20 years ago, is of a recital by two student performers. Newspapers no longer cover the classical music beat to this extent, and that’s a shame. –TM)
Pair Skillfully Meet Musical Challenge
January 12, 1998|TIMOTHY MANGAN
Two young talents, violinist Radu Pieptea and pianist Alpin Hong, were featured Friday night in a duo-recital at Occidental College’s Thorne Hall.
Both past winners of Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards (in 1996 and 1994, respectively) and largely trained locally, these musicians showed technical proficiency and musical resolve in a demanding program. Neither is skittish of the big works. Despite the rain, a sizable, supportive audience turned out.
Pieptea, currently a student of Robert Mann at the Juilliard School, embarked with Bach’s challenging unaccompanied Sonata in A minor, BWV 1003, in a serious and sturdy account, the double-stops sounding as solid and centered as organ chords. His firm tone resounded in the hall’s warm acoustics.
Hong, a senior at UCLA, countered with Liszt’s monumental B-minor Sonata. Hong would seem to be a musician with plenty of temperament, but he’s also a reckless one. This made for a generally excited feeling in the performance, though much of the playing emerged blurred and even harried.
After intermission, the two players teamed for Franck’s A-major Sonata and Franz Waxman’s “Carmen” Fantasy, two chestnuts of markedly different stripe. While Pieptea’s measured and literal approach served the ripe Romanticism of the Franck just fine (with Hong supplying poetic touches), it turned the circus-act acrobatics of Waxman’s piece into a track and field event–grueling high hurdles rather than flying trapeze. A gracious presentation of Elgar’s “Salut d’amour” served as soothing encore.