First-Rate Four-Hand Performance

Juyeon Kang & Barbara Moser: Sioux City Chamber Music Series

September 15, 2019
First Presbyterian Church, Sioux City
3:00 pm

‘Tis the season.  Not for Christmas but for gifts of another kind.  In addition to a few local theatres kicking off their 19/20 seasons, the Sioux City Chamber Music Series hosted its first event of the new season. 

In “Ein Gruß aus Wien” (or “A Greeting from Vienna”), Northwestern College professor Juyeon Kang partnered with Vienna native Barbara Moser for a four-hand five-star performance at the piano in a program that included Viennese heavy-hitters: Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, and Strauss. 

Aside from seeing a four-hand performance live for the first time, the highlight of my afternoon came just before intermission.  After a free-spirited sonata from a young Mozart, the pair dug deep into Schubert’s Fantasia in F Minor, written the year that he died.  Ms. Moser, in introducing the piece, referred to its melancholy, which I felt immediately.  But present, too, were reprieves of buoyant joy.  The roughly twenty-minute, single-movement piece written by a man looking down his own mortality makes no concessions and lets up for no one.  There’s no time to spare for quiet transitions from one movement to the next; we’ve got to fit it all in while we can.  The Fantasia did exactly that and provided the emotional heart of the afternoon’s proceedings. 

After intermission, Ms. Kang explained to the uninitiated among us—that’s me—some of the mechanics of a four-hand program.  Who knew?  The duo exchanged positions and Ms. Kang played primo most of the rest of the afternoon. 

If Fantasia took us deeper and into somewhat darker emotional spaces, the second half of the program charted a lighter, more upward trajectory.  Sequences of variations and Hungarian dances were followed by a full-speed, fully-illuminated overture.  All three pieces displayed the composers’—and the pianists’—virtuosity, and they established a fitting mood for an audience about to step out into a bright and beautiful late-summer day. 

If you didn’t know Sioux City had a Chamber Music Series or if you thought it wasn’t worth the effort on a Sunday afternoon, check it out sometime.  The series continues in November with the Seattle-based Sonic String Quartet.

Looking for more local art events? Click here to see what else is happening in September.