Review: Yamamoto & Huang

Daisuke Yamamoto, violin
Michelle Huang, piano
July 30, Dominion Energy Center

In the fourth installment of the Richmond Symphony Summer Series, this year focusing on Beethoven, Daisuke Yamamoto, the orchestra’s concertmaster, joined Virginia Commonwealth University-based pianist Michelle Huang in two contrasting violin sonatas, the F major, Op. 24 (“Spring”) and the C minor, Op. 30, No. 2.

Yamamoto demonstrated his mastery of the Beethoven sonatas – and his formidable stamina – when he played all 10 of them with pianist Alexander Paley in a three-concert marathon during Paley’s 2017 Richmond music festival. This reprise of two sonatas was surely less taxing, but complicated by his having to play while wearing a mask.

The qualities of Yamamoto’s earlier Beethoven performances – well-focused and full-bodied but nuanced tone, close attention to accents, note values and dynamic variables, sensitive shaping of phrases and realization of these pieces’ range of moods – were just as pronounced this time around. This violinist clearly relishes playing these sonatas.

Pianist Huang was an able partner, secure in the considerable technical demands Beethoven’s poses in these works and consistently on the same interpretive wavelength as the violinist.

The piano, however, sounded recessed throughout these performances, resulting in imbalances between two instruments that Beethoven intended to be fully collaborative voices.

Worse, the online stream of this performance was plagued by audio breakup, persistent little stutters and patches of distortion in the sound. At first, I thought this was an issue with my internet service; but I continued to hear the deficiency in two computer restarts over two days, with no comparable problems hearing other online audio streams.

The video stream of the recital by Daisuke Yamamoto and Michelle Huang may be accessed through Aug. 5, and subsequent programs in the Richmond Symphony Summer Series, at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays through Aug. 13, are open to limited numbers of patrons in Dominion Energy Center’s Gottwald Playhouse and via online streams. Tickets: $12 per concert. Details: (804) 788-1212; (Tickets may be purchased through links from that address.)

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