by Daniel Hathaway
Want a good return on your investment? Give scholarships to budding musicians to help them over the financial humps of their early careers. And if you’re smart, like Tuesday Musical, invite them back several years later to show scholarship donors how richly their contributions paid off.
The now well-known violinist Jinjoo Cho and soprano Dina Kuznetsova were recipients of TMA’s scholarship program back in the day. Their joint concert with pianist Hyun Soo Kim on November 22 in Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall was both a demonstration of careers that have really taken off and a splendid example of joint programming.
Though they have both chosen to make their homes in Northeast Ohio, Cho and Kuznetsova had never previously met. As Cho put it, “I didn’t even know Dina existed until we started putting this concert together.” No matter. Their collaborative performances of Mozart’s aria “L’amerò, sarò costante” from Il Re Pastore and Rachmaninoff’s song Do not sing, o beauty, Op. 4, No. 4 were beautifully coordinated — especially in the cadenza of the Mozart.
November 22 was the birthday of the British composer Benjamin Britten — as well as of St. Cecilia, the patroness of music — and Cho and Kuznetsova each marked the occasion with solo pieces. Kuznetsova hauntingly presented three songs from The Poet’s Echo with words by Pushkin, and Cho gave a revelatory performance of the Op. 6 Suite for Violin and Piano, a work that shows a young composer who has already found a unique voice.
Cho also programmed Schubert’s Sonata in A, D. 574, a song-without-words-filled piece full of delectable nuance and fine coordination between violinist and pianist. Its sprightly finale was a high point in the evening.
In Dvorak’s Gypsy Songs and two songs from Tchaikovsky’s Frenzied Nights, Kuznetsova, who grew up singing in E.J. Thomas Hall, showed her masterful ability to sing through its cottony acoustics and produce a gorgeous, full-bodied sound that carried to the grand tier.
The concert ended with a splendid performance of the Rachmaninoff song in which Cho and Kuznetsova captured the essence of Pushkin’s ambivalent emotions. And an outsized ovation from the mid-sized audience brought singer and violinist back for a tender encore: Dvorak’s Songs My Mother Taught Me.
The heavy lifting in this wonderfully varied program was done by pianist Hyun Soo Kim — who partnered in every piece with flawless technique and a chameleonic attention to style and color. He deserved his own bio in the program book.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com December 6, 2016.
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