Written: April 2, 2013
Published: October 3, 2017
© All Rights Reserved
Reviewing A Piano Sonata as a Sophomore In College
THE 5 W'S
The Gorenman Piano Project: Chopin Edition featured Yuliya Gorenman at American University’s Katzen Arts Center in Washington, D.C. on Mar. 23, 2013 at 8 p.m. Gorenman masterfully performed six different pieces composed by Frédéric Chopin before a full house including: Barcarolle, op. 60; Sonata No.2 in B flat minor, op. 35 (Grave. Doppio movimento, Scherzo, Marche funèbre, Presto); Ballade No. 1 in G minor, op. 23; Ballade No. 2 in F major, op. 38; Ballade No. 3 in A flat major, op. 47; and Ballade No. 4in F major, op. 52.
SETTING & OVERALL REACTION
The director of the music program, Nancy Snider highlighted Chopin’s legacy and influences before Gorenman’s performance. Simultaneously, Snider acknowledged Gorenman’s inspiration for performing some of Chopin’s less popular pieces for the evening. “She wanted to reveal the unfamiliar rather than the familiar," said Snider, summarizing Gorenman’s words. Light oak and cream-colored walls of the recital hall complemented its modern and spacious appearance. Dimmed lighting emphasized a spotlight effect on the piano. Gorenman performed on a slightly distressed, black Steinway & Sons grand piano.
In reaction to the performance as a whole, the flow did not drag or become stagnant. The musical selections ranged from sweet and airy to strong and romantic. Gorenman articulated the beginning of a new piece with a two to four second pause. An amateur ear might have appreciated verbal introduction before each piece. Yet, it's understandable that verbal introduction could break the flow and mood of the moment.
Gorenman performed with immense focus, allowing the melodies and harmonies to resonate independently. She eloquently delivered each measure of music even during faster scales and tempos. At times, Gorenman’s demeanor embodied the visual imagery of an engaged chemist in the lab. Around 8:27 p.m. Gorenman performed Marche funèbre from Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, op. 35. This was a defining key moment primarily because the music reminds one of a repetitive marching-like theme. Although the tempo appeared to be andante or grave, the suspenseful tone added to the drama of the piece.
Another key moment occurred after intermission around 9:04 p.m. Gorenman entered in a beautiful, floor length red velvet gown before performing Ballade No. 1 in G minor, op. 23. Upon her entry, the audience smiled in awe, while some people whispered "wows." In contrast to March funèbre, this piece was delicate and dreamy. One can envision ballerinas gliding and jumping or fairies twirling. Another key moment occurred when Gorenman performed short pieces from Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach after completing her scheduled acts. The spontaneity of these short acts acted as nice surprise elements. Nonetheless, the full concert acted as an enjoyable experience.
AUDIENCE: REACTION & APPLAUSE
Especially noteworthy was the diverse audience. All 213 quests ranged from young children to elderly couples. After each piece, the audience responded with strong applause. After applause, Gorenman soaked in the gratitude and reciprocated her thankfulness by smiling while placing her right hand on her chest. The audience shared their undivided attention during the majority of the concert. Some closed their eyes to capture the full experience of the melodies and harmonies blending. Others watched closely with their hands close to their mouths in loosely closed fist. I witnessed a blind gentleman talking to a friend about how he enjoyed the music, highlighting Sonata No. 2. in B flat minor, op. 35. Preceding the performance and during intermission, the audience chatter admired Gorenman's previous works. "She's great. I'm only in her piano introductory course, but she is absolutely great," said one of her pupils enrolled in Class Piano I at American University.
Yuliya Gorenman is an Award-winning pianist born in Odessa, Ukraine. Her passion for piano began during early childhood under her mother’s instruction. Later, she developed her craft at St. Petersburg Conservatory. In conversation, Gorenman often prides the fact that world-renowned Russian composer, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky attended the same school. In 1995, Gorenman become a prizewinner at Belgium’s Queen Elizabeth Competition. Gorenman also performed at a joint concert with American singer and songwriter, Billy Joel. Aside from numerous radio and television performances aired globally, Gorenman has performed at Kennedy Center, National Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic of Flanders, and the Liege Philharmonic.
It would not do any justice to cherry pick which 18th century piece Gorenman performed the best from Frédéric Chopin. Rather, Gorenman seamlessly intertwined her charisma, dedication, and passion into Chopin’s masterpieces. Overall, one can predict that the Gorenman Piano Project will transcend into American University’s history as one of the most moving musical experiences witnessed.