Usually when I listen to classical music, I’m sitting in a concert hall in my business casual attire at a minimum. Last night’s Cliburn at Whiskey Ranch concert had me listening in a t-shirt and shorts while leaning on a porch railing at the distillery with a vegan chocolate ice cream from Melt Ice Creams in my hand. (Those are good, by the way.) Perhaps it was just a fluke, but I seemed to take in the music better than usual.
Then again, it might have been the music on offer. Joyce Yang played a selection of short pieces in this hour-long concert, and maybe the same setting wouldn’t have suited something like Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” Sonata. The program showed the 2005 Cliburn Competition silver medalist bringing lovely sound and patiently unfurling the melodies of stately mid-tempo piano works, which seems to be what she does best. Out of her selection of five of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, the Nocturne stood out, with its impressionistic middle section. The same went for Rachmaninov’s Prelude in D major, which was one of four preludes by the Russian composer that she essayed, and which had a burnished majesty to it. Her rendition of the Sarabande from Bach’s French Suite No. 5 seemed to slow down time in a pleasant way. Her version of Chopin’s Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante left me unconvinced that this piece is of lasting musical merit, but it was a pleasant piece of frippery in her hands.
There’s two of these outdoor concerts this summer. The other one will be in a couple of weeks, and I’ll report back on that as well. Seems like the Cliburn could stand to do more of these while the weather outside is pleasant enough.