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ISSUE 118 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/5/2004

Buechner a master in her class

By Sara Perelli-Minetti
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 5, 2004

From the first note of her dazzling performance in Urness Recital Hall on Monday evening, Sara Davis Buechner had her audience captivated by her sensitive and thoughtful playing.

A world-renowned pianist, Buechner, who is an assistant professor of piano and chamber music at the University of British Columbia, gave a masterclass for several lucky St. Olaf piano majors Monday afternoon, prior to her evening performance.

Buechner opened her concert with Mozarts classic Fantasy and Sonata in C minor, KV 475/ 457. Considered one of the finest Mozart interpreters alive, Buechner did not disappoint, bringing renewed energy and expression to Mozarts music. The lively Fantasy showcased not only Buechners characteristic sensitivity on the ivories, but also her impressive technical prowess, which was apparent in her skilled navigation through the pieces complex lines.

Mozarts Sonata followed Fantasy, bringing a slightly more subdued tone with the Molto Allegro, and later Adagio movements. Once again, Buechner showcased her masterful command of the keys in the Allegro assai movement, bringing a lively close to the Mozart section of her performance.

Next, Buechner demonstrated her versatility with Homage to Yatsuhashi Kengyo (Rokuda) from A Japanese Miscellany, Vol. 1, by Elliot Weisgarber. This vigorous piece was described by Buechner as a transcription of a famous piece for the koto, a 13-stringed Japanese harp. For its principle theme, the piece used the motive that opens Rokudan, perhaps the most famous traditional piece for the koto from the 17th century.

Beuchners rendition of this rather atonal Asian piece was as skillful and expressive as her approach to Mozarts works.

After the Weisgarber, Buechner continued with two more Asian pieces by the Japanese composer Yukiko Nishimura. Two Pieces for Piano consisted of two movements: Quiet Beach and Rain. Quiet Beach was soft and lilting, occasionally punctuated by flowing lines that symbolized movement of water on a shore. Rain conjured images of a gentle spring shower with calm, continuous notes.

The second half of the program, performed in memory of three of Buechners friends who passed away this year, featured works by the Spanish composer Joaquin Turina. Buechner opened with Invoacacion (Danza Gitana), Op. 84, no. 3, followed by Danzas Andaluzas, Op. 8, and ending with Mujeres Espanolas.

Buechner conveyed Turinas youthful style in her playful and lighthearted presentation of the composers three pieces. Combining Hispanic dance rhythms with extravagant virtuosity, Turinas pieces provided a wonderful contrast of classic Mozart with the subdued Japanese pieces of the programs earlier half.

After multiple rounds of applause, Buechner treated the audience to two encores, both of which featured the music of George Gershwin. The first piece, Do, do, do has never been written down; Buechner learned it by ear at a friends house while living in Korea. Described by Buechner as her very favorite, Do do do, played by Buechner, conveyed Gershwin at his most enjoyable.

Buechners second encore brought a jazzy and unconventional rendition of Someone to Watch Over Me, a crowd-pleasing favorite.

Well-received by students and faculty, Buechners performance elicited praise.

This is the first piano concert I have truly enjoyed, Jacob Fitzpatrick 07 said.

Buechners concert on the piano was extraordinary; it is rare to find a performer with such eloquent expression combined with flawless technique. The praise she received Monday evening pay testament to her talent.

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