Sunday, April 19, 2015

Young artists shine with the Vancouver Symphony

Matthieu Galizia, Nathan Kim, and Yun Teng
Every spring for the past 22 years, the Vancouver Symphony has rewarded the winners of its Young Artist Competition with the opportunity to solo with the orchestra on it classical series. At this year’s concert, which took place yesterday afternoon (April 18), a earnest audience shunned the unseasonably sunny weather outside to hear violinist Yun Teng, and pianists Matthieu Galizia and Nathan Kim perform at Skyview Concert Hall. All three teenagers delivered outstanding performances with Kim’s playing of Sergei Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto shining the brightest.

Kim, a 15-year-old freshman at Newberg High School (Newberg, Oregon) has already won a number of prestigious competitions that have allowed him to play at Carnegie Hall and a month ago soloed with the Coeur d’Alene Symphony after winning its young artist competition. He came on stage with a lot of confidence and unleashed a passionate and precise performance of the Prokofiev concerto. Glancing up now and then to make sure that he was in sync with conductor Salvador Brotons, Kim brought out the mercurial nature of the music, which ranged from bold statements to quiet and solemn excursions.

Galizia, a 16-year-old homeschooled student from St. Helens, Oregon, has also won several competitions, and this was his first appearance with an orchestra. He played the first movement of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto with confidence and remarkable expression, but he was not always lined up exactly with orchestra. His best and most expressive playing came during the cadenza. At that point, he coaxed gorgeously sensitive phrases and a made the piece his own.

Equally impressive was Teng’s ardent performance of the first movement of Jean Sibelius’s Violin Concerto. The 17-year-old senior from Camas High School (Camas, Washington), is also young veteran of competitions and has soloed in Carnegie Hall and with the Willamette Falls Symphony and the Clark College Orchestra. He created searing lines with a beautiful, resonant tone that carried well above the orchestra. Even though the frenzied passage just before the end of the piece veered a little off the rails, Teng kept his composure and applied a silky sound to the finish.

After intermission the orchestra performed Arthur Honegger’s Fifth Symphony, which is known as “Di tre re” (“Of the three D’s”) because of the Ds that are played by the low strings and the timpani at the end of each movement. The orchestra gave this rarely heard gem a stirring performance. The crescendos into the wildest parts of this piece were thrilling with the French horn contributing mightily. The motoric sound of the third movement had a lot of verve and the lower strings established a tick-tock kind of fate as the piece came to a close. Biting accents by the trombones, sporadic commentary by the woodwinds, and a mysterious atmosphere created by the strings were some of the highlights of this piece.

The concert concluded with a spirited performance of Maurice Ravel’s “La Valse” (The Waltz”). Brotons, conducting from memory, urged the orchestra to fashion a dance that would spin out of control. It didn’t seem to quite get there, but the music still had a wonderful collapse that sent the audience out into the bright sunshine with a smile.

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