Lise de la Salle, Olga Kern, Joyce Yang | Ravinia Festival | Classical | Chicago Reader

Lise de la Salle, Olga Kern, Joyce Yang Critic's Choice Recommended Soundboard

When: Wed., Aug. 5, 8 p.m. 2009

At this concert three remarkable pianists will perform the first concertos of three 20th-century Russian giants: Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and Shostokovich. Prokofiev’s relatively brief Concerto in D-flat Major, op. 10 (1912), played by 21-year-old Ravinia debutant LISE DE LA SALLE, is usually viewed as a single movement, though given the clear distinctions between the broad, sweeping Allegro Brioso, the darker Andante Assai, and the lively Allegro Scherzando, one could make the case for three. De la Salle has had a meteoric rise since winning two major competitions—the European Young Concert Artists in 2003 and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 2004—and among her releases on the Naive label is a recording of this Prokofiev concerto, which combines lightness with the necessary bravura. Russian-born OLGA KERN, who seems to have bravura in her blood, will play the Rachmaninoff, a fitting choice since she’s had so much experience with his work—she won the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition at 17, tied for first place in the 2001 Van Cliburn performing the infamous “Rach 3” (becoming the first woman to win gold in more than 30 years), and recorded his massive Sonata no. 2 for Harmonia Mundi. Unfortunately, the composer’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in F-sharp Minor, op. 1 (1891), is not his best—he was just 19, and though interesting in parts it’s generally just too schmaltzy. Another Van Cliburn winner, JOYCE YANG (she took silver in 2005), will play Shostakovich’s Concerto in C minor, op. 35 (1933). Yang’s strong, expressive style and gift for collaboration (she performs regularly with the Takacs Quartet) should be a good fit for this incredible piece, with its haunting second movement and profound emotional depth. Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal trumpeter Chris Martin joins Yang on the Shostakovich; James Conlon conducts. —Barbara Yaross

Price: $10-$25

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