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#396589 - 06/04/06 10:55 AM A Howard Na recital 6/11
cerulean5 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 678
Loc: USA
Hi guys,

For those of you in the Bay Area: I heard through my grapevine that Howard Na is giving a recital on 6/11 (next Sunday) at 6 pm in room A-11 at De Anza College in Cupertino. The tickets will run around $10 per person.
The programme will include Beethoven Sonata Op. 110, Messiaen Preludes, and Prokofiev Sonata (forgot which one-- No. 3?). Lots of encores as well.
Mr. Na is currently a student of Vladimir Viardo at University of North Texas. A very talented guy with amazing tonal range and musical imagination. Hope to see some of you there.


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#396590 - 06/04/06 05:24 PM Re: A Howard Na recital 6/11
thoughtful Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/11/05
Posts: 74
hey, thanks for the post. De Anza is just 15 minutes away from where I live. Do you know where to get the ticket?

#396591 - 06/04/06 05:41 PM Re: A Howard Na recital 6/11
cerulean5 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 678
Loc: USA
Hi thoughtful,

You can purchase the ticket right before the concert, right past the entrance to A-11. I don't think the recital hall would be completely full, but you might want to get there 30 minutes ahead of time.


#396592 - 06/11/06 03:00 PM Re: A Howard Na recital 6/11
cerulean5 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 678
Loc: USA
Just a reminder:

The recital is today at 6pm at A-11 choral hall on De Anza campus. Tickets are $10 each.

Hope to see some of you there,


#396593 - 06/12/06 02:48 AM Re: A Howard Na recital 6/11
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1598
Hi, how did the recital go? I'm interested to hear, as Na made quite an impression to the critics and audience of the latest Warsaw competition.

#396594 - 06/12/06 09:58 PM Re: A Howard Na recital 6/11
DameMyra Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 2153
Loc: South Jersey
Yes, please post a review if you get a chance.
Private Piano Teacher

#396595 - 06/13/06 01:38 AM Re: A Howard Na recital 6/11
cerulean5 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 678
Loc: USA
Hi Opus_Maximus and DameMyra,

Good to know that some people are interested! ;\)
I'm writing up my review, but it's getting longer than I expected. I will put it up tomorrow sometime. All in all it was a great concert and I am very glad I went.


#396596 - 06/13/06 10:12 PM Re: A Howard Na recital 6/11
thoughtful Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/11/05
Posts: 74
I was there (thanks again cerulean's for posting about the recital) and I thought overall it was descent.

His program:

Beethoven Op.110
2 Messian Preludes
Prokofiev 2nd sonata
Chopin/Godowsky etude
Bizert/Horowitz Carmen Variation

In Beethoven's Op.110 and the slow movement of Prokofiev, Na produced some of very pleasant tonal gradations. The fuge in Op.110 was well played. The opening movement was very controlled. His Messian was somewhat bitting and a bit rough, but I do appreciate his occassional use of misty pianissimo. Prokofiev was OK...To my ears, His Chopin/Godowsky's Revolutionary was actually not very polished and Horowitz/Bizert Carmen varation sounded flat (compared to his Beethoven), but the audice seemed to love them and gave a standing ovation after the variation.

Overall, Na has a good potential, and he does have a good tonal control. But compared to Li Yundi (whose recital I heard this April), Na is still a developing artist who is finding and refining his own voice.

#396597 - 06/13/06 11:37 PM Re: A Howard Na recital 6/11
cerulean5 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 678
Loc: USA
Review of Howard Na’s recital
061106 Sunday at De Anza College, A-11 Choral Hall
Piano: NY Steinway D [/b]

--as listed by thoughtful \:\)

Beethoven: [/b]
The entire sonata had a wonderfully introspective quality to it, which really set up the roaring climax in the fourth movement. The opening in the first movement was simply rendered, without any unnecessary effort (and yet so beautiful!); this really set the tone for the rest of the piece.
Overall, an effortless and unforced rendition. Nothing was exaggerated or out of place.
I did feel that he is capable of much, much more. He seemed emotionally muted in the first half, somehow not fully engaged. It turns out he was suffering from allergies, and was distracted trying to not drip all over the keyboard! At one point, he grabbed the handkerchief and wiped his nose while the right had still rested on a chord. Right pedal to the rescue! His comment later: “It was hard to find the right timing to do that, as both hands are fully engaged most of the time, and there are hardly clear breaks between the movements!”

He played 2 preludes, first one mysterious and whimsically demented (?), the second one abrupt and with some fiendish technical passages. Buzzing notes and raging bass octaves, exploding then collapsing into a confused mass of light and darkness. First time I had heard Messiaen in recital, and I enjoyed the experience very much. Mr. Na did a great job keeping up with the mercurial character-shifts in these pieces.

Undoubtedly the best performance of the night. His affinity with Russian music is very apparent, and he seemed very much at ease with this piece. The kaleidoscope of emotions in this sonata—from dreamy melancholy, alienation, fear, ecstasy, grating sarcasm, manic high, militant anger, depression, twisted patriotism—were all given their due. Also a technical showpiece, pianistic athleticism was observed in abundance, and it was awesome to hear! In contrast to the introverted Beethoven in the first half, this was a very extroverted and manic interpretation. Rhythmic tightness in the 4th movement was noteworthy.

Some specifics for people who care ;\)

Piano-pianissimo range[/b]
One of the impressive things about his playing is the fantastic control in the ppp-p range; the sound is never thin or weak. He also possesses great TONAL control in this range, which was used to great effect throughout all the pieces, especially the Beethoven Sonata and the first Messiaen prelude.

Use of the right pedal for various tonal effects [/b]
Another notable feature of his playing: a meticulous and judicious use of the right pedal. The basic use of the pedal—to bring out the richness in harmony with no muddying or abrupt breaks—was done to perfection. What interested me is what ELSE he was able to do with the pedal. (Examples specifically from Beethoven sonata)

1. In the development of the first movement, he quarter-pedaled with the phrases in the left hand, softening the edges of the wandering bass notes, giving them tonal “shadows”.
2. Another example is the transition to the final movement: he started with a rather short G major chord, depressing the pedal just a tad to allow a ghost of residual resonance; for each successive chord, he depressed the pedal more and more each time, to get an increasingly fuller and ringing sound.
3. Near the end of the piece, in the ascending chords leading to the triumphant A flat major arpeggios, he pedaled effectively to turn the bass into a roar, letting the sound feed and grow upon itself to the very end.
4. In the Prokofiev, he often made good use “blurred” fast passages in contrast to the insistent, percussive notes.

It’s a bit difficult to explain verbally what the effects were like, but they WORKED. Let me emphasize that he did nothing to call attention to purely the technique. Everything was done to serve the music, and in my opinion, he succeeded with flying colors.

Voicing and balance [/b]
His capacity to voice well was evident in the fugue sections, where multiple voices were handled with ease; each entry had a particular “character” to it, which made it easy and interesting to follow the voices. The voices did not wimp out either. Also, there was a good overall balance between the high and low registers in all the pieces. One was never too much for the other. Whatever he intended to bring out was done so with out any effort, it seemed.

Variety of touch [/b]
Another hallmark of his playing is the breadth of tonal palette. Some of that comes from effective use of the pedal, as mentioned above, but first and foremost, it’s due to the versatility of his touch: sound he produces can vary from soft and velvety to percussive and steel-cored. One strange thing that he does is to “break” the tip-most joint sometimes in soft sections, which I certainly wasn’t encouraged to do in my piano training. The advantage there might be that the meaty part of the finger is in contact with the key, rather than the very tip of the finger. He certainly has a round and soft quality to his p-pp sound, no doubt aided by this peculiar technique.
In addition, he is very good at creating layers of textures from runs of notes. Some of that was evident in the Messiaen. It would be very interesting to hear him in Ravel or Debussy.

Economic, logical body usage [/b]
Hearing Mr. Na play was of course a wonderful experience, but watching him was a treat as well. It was fascinating to see him “solving” musical phrases with the most efficient movement he could devise. Repeated A’s in the middle of third movement: he used his wrist to group 2 notes at a time, without moving the fingers (either 4-3, or 3-2).
He also rolls his shoulders in certain passages, maybe to keep them loose and springy. Whatever he does, the intention is clearly to achieve a particular tonal effect. Nothing is done merely for show. In repeatedly percussive sections (esp. Prokofiev), his entire forearm become stabilized, spring-like without banging the keyboard.

In summary: [/b]

Overall, a satisfying concert-going experience! \:\)

Granted, there weren’t those hair-raising moments like the time Mr. Na played the E flat Prelude or the Barcarolle at the 2005 International Chopin Competition. It would be interesting to hear him at a high-stake competition, he seems to rise to the occasion. I wasn’t there, but apparently there were people weeping in the audience when he played the Funeral March from Chopin Sonata No. 2 at Florianka Hall in Krakow. That’s the kind of experience I would like from a Howard Na recital. As stated before, he was not quite engaged today. The encores didn’t connect emotionally, although the technique was there without any doubt.
Lastly, I wish he had played some Chopin tonight; that’s where his tonal control and capacity for poetry would really shine. There will be many more opportunities to hear him in the future, I hope.


#396598 - 06/13/06 11:47 PM Re: A Howard Na recital 6/11
cerulean5 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 678
Loc: USA
Hi thoughtful,

You beat me to the review! \:\)
I agree, I think Mr. Na is still coming into his own. But the potential there is really awesome. He is a good balance of poetic sensibility, intellect and musical imagination. I have no doubt that he'll have a big break-through within the next 5 years.



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