Review: Lano & Yefimova

Erin Lano, French horn
Maria Yefimova, piano
Aug. 13, Dominion Energy Center

The final program of the Richmond Symphony Summer Series, this year focusing on Beethoven during the composer’s 250th anniversary year, was a mixture of works by Beethoven; two of his most prominent contemporaries, Luigi Cherubini and Franz Schubert; and a composer of the next generation greatly influenced by Beethoven, Robert Schumann.

A mixture by necessity: As Erin Lano, a French horn player in the symphony, observed, Beethoven didn’t write a recital’s worth of music for her instrument. His only work for solo horn was the early Sonata in F major, Op. 17. Lano and pianist Maria Yefimova supplemented that piece with arrangements of two horn sonatas by Cherubini and of art-songs (a medium in which Beethoven didn’t excel) by Schubert and Schumann, topped off with Yefimova playing the first movement of one of Beethoven’s greatest piano sonatas, the C major, Op. 53 (“Waldstein”).

The Beethoven horn sonata, not surprisingly, found Lano most audibly in her comfort zone – the piece, written in 1800 for the Bohemian virtuoso Giovanni Punto, is standard fare for all horn soloists. She played it with a gratifying combination of declarative aplomb and songfulness. She brought a similar balance of qualities to two songs from Schumann’s song cycle “Myrthen,” Op. 25, “Widmung” and “Die Lotosblume;” but delivered a more labored reading of Schubert’s familiar “An die Musik.”

Yefimova, a pianist on the faculty of the College of William and Mary, gave a fluent account of the “Waldstein” movement, playing from memory with fine technique and a sure sense of the music’s structure and expressive force.

Lano and Yefimova opened the program with two brief horn sonatas by Cherubini, as arranged in 1954 by Johannes Wojciechowski (originally for horn and strings), pieces that echo the vocal music for which the composer was best-known, played by this duo with suitable theatricality.

The recital marked the last public appearance by David Fisk as the symphony’s executive director. After 18 eventful and productive years in the post, Fisk leaves Richmond at the end of the month to become executive director of the Charlotte Symphony.

The video stream of the recital by Erin Lano and Maria Yefimova may be accessed through Aug. 19. Tickets: $12. Details: (804) 788-1212; (Single tickets may be purchased via links on that page.)

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