Bob Sherman Hello everybody. I'm Bob Sherman. Astral Artists just had its national auditions last month, so I trust I'll be bringing you some of these superb artists this next season. Meanwhile, some of the 2018 laureates shine tonight on this 2163rd edition of the McGraw Family's Young Artist Showcase.
Bob Sherman Supported generously by the Harold W. McGraw JR Family Foundation, the Young Artist Showcase has for years searched out deserving young talents and given them broadcast opportunities on WQXR. Astral Artists, based in Philadelphia, has precisely the same focus, except their outstanding musicians are given concert opportunities and other career development help. Today, and next week as well, I'd like to look back with you at five Philadelphia recitals by Astral laureates, beginning today with music of Debussy, Prokofiev, and Mussorgsky.
Bob Sherman Two fine pianists made their City of Brotherly Love debuts last season in Astral's series in Benjamin Franklin Hall, Zhenni Li, who by the way, has appeared in WQXR's Greene Space series, though not until now in the Showcase, and Viktor Valkov, from Bulgaria originally, now a visiting professor at the University of Utah. Interestingly, both artists played Debussy early in their recital programs, Zhenni Li opting for one of the Preludes, La Puerto del Vino, and Poissons d'or; Viktor Valkov closing his group with the same La Puerta, but preceding it -- and I'll spare you this time more of my fractured French by using the English translation -- The Fairies are Exquisite Dancers. This first is Zhenni Li.
Bob Sherman And following Zhenni Li's Debussy, we have two of the preludes played by Viktor Valkov.
Bob Sherman No this isn't David Dubal's reflections from the Keyboard, but I did take a cue from his fascinating program to let you compare two versions of Debussy's Prelude "La Puerta del Vino" played first by Zhenni Li, who followed it with one of the Images, Poissono d'or, while Victor Valkov began with another of the Preludes, The Exquisite Dancing Fairies, before offering his take on La Puerta. I'll return to both of these splendid pianists later in our Showcase hour, sampling the virtuoso pieces that close the separate recitals. But since we've begun the showcase with Debussy, let's continue with the impressions master's D minor sonata. The Astral laureate cellist is Greek-born Timotheos Petrin, who came here to study at the Curtis Institute and now is in the graduate program at the New England Conservatory. His pianist partner is Chelsea Wang, whom we met as a winner of the New York International Piano Competition six or seven years ago. The Debussy sonata itself is in three short movements, marked Prologue, Sarabande, and Finale.
Bob Sherman Superb playing this past February at the Philadelphia, possibly even the American recital debut of the Greek pianist Timotheos Petrin, joined by Showcase alumna pianist Chelsea Wang, for the D minor sonata of Claude Debussy. We earlier heard solo keyboard works by Astral Artists Zhenni Li and Viktor Valkov. After their recital intermission, and indeed after much shorter WQXR break now, we'll meet both of these superb pianists in far more virtuosic vein. So do stay with us for Mussorgsky and Prokofiev on the McGraw Family's Young Artist Showcase.
Bob Sherman I'm Bob Sherman and on the McGraw Family's Young Artist Showcase tonight, we're revisiting several recitals this past season by winners of Astral Artists National Competition. Having heard pianist Zhenni Li and Viktor Valkov playing intimate Debussy pieces earlier on, I'd like to move on to the far more expansive and highly virtuosic Russian works that close their Philadelphia debuts. The reviewer in The Philadelphia Inquirer referred to Zhenni Li's big, gorgeous tone and mesmerizing touch both of which served her exceedingly well in Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition. Obviously we can't visit them all, so we'll pick up with the last Promenade leading to the final four portraits: the Market Place at Limoges, the Roman Catacombs, the witch Baba Yaga, who lives in the Hut on Fowl's Legs, and the Great Gate of Kiev.
Limoges, Catacombs, Baba Yaga, and The Great Gate of Kiev, the last four of Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition, closing out the Philadelphia recital debut of Zhenni Li. The other keyboard winner of Astral Artists' National Auditions we've met tonight on the showcase, Viktor Valkov, chose to end his demanding program with the last of Prokofiev's so-called War Sonatas. After a slow movement of surprising tenderness, the B-flat sonata (this is number eight) moves on to a dramatic close in which, says Pianist Valkov who wrote the notes here, "Prokofiev makes an assertion of the human spirit in the boldest of statements."
Bob Sherman Part of the Andante and the Vivace finale of Prokofiev's Piano Sonata #8 in B-flat and a brilliant performance at his Philadelphia debut recital this past March by Viktor Valkov. Next week more winners of Astral Artists National Competition brighten our Young Artist Showcase, with a few details to follow after a few words of greeting from our longtime friend and benefactor. So, here's Terry McGraw.
Terry McGraw Well thanks, Bob. There's nothing more satisfying than seeing some of the wonderful young musicians we introduce on Young Artist Showcase go on to become part of our musical mainstream. And it happens all the time on this program. It shows we're not only on the right track, Bob, but leading the way towards a great American future in the arts. I hope you'll all join us again next week.
Bob Sherman Thanks, Terry. First of all, let me add great appreciation to Astral Artists Leslie Johnson for compiling the performances that we heard as American radio debuts tonight, and as I indicated just a few moments ago, we will hear the same way next week as returning showcase alumni-- among them violinist Danbi Um and Nikki Chooi, cellisy Zlatomir Fung ( who, by the way, just last month won the gold medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow,) Pianist Amy Yang and double- bassist Xavier Foley returned with music of Brahms and the English composer York Bowen. Do try to join us then. Our Showcase series now in its 42nd year on WQXR, is generously supported by the Harold W. McGraw JR family foundation, Max Fine at the production desk. I'm Bob Sherman. Goodnight everybody.
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