APA Grand Encounter Series; Indiana History Center; March 6.
Sunday afternoon’s IHC Basile
Theater was nearly full for the American Pianists Association’s
first Grand Encounter Series program of 2011. Even ISO conductor
laureate Raymond Leppard was in attendance. And he surely couldn’t
have been more gratified to be greeted by Grace Fong (she spoke,
introducing us to the program before playing), the most startling
pianistic talent to emerge as an APA Fellow (one of two in 2009)
since the series relocated here from New York in the 1980s.
Of her appearances here since her
Fellowship award — one a solo recital at Butler, another a
concerto performance with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra —
she has continued to mesmerize us with her uncanny control of all
facets of keyboard technique and musicianship. This time, however,
she brought along her husband, Jun Iwasaki — a top-tiered
violinist, and we heard basically a duo recital, ranging through a
wide variety of styles. From Scriabin and Rachmaninoff, we
experienced two Latin-based dances and a piece called “Tin Pan
Alley,” all by Cleveland-based Paul Schoenfield, then Ravel’s
Violin Sonata and last, as well as “most”: Beethoven’s
I’m always astonished to hear
what Fong’s keyboard work gives to me: a perfect sense of
touch, fingerwork, trilling, chordal exchanges and pedaling,
unimpeded by technical challenges or tempo limits to make it through
obstacles without slips. Moreover, Fong senses what the music
needs—and it just happens.
Well, her musical and marital partner
also greatly impresses. Iwasaki’s tone and technique belong in
the top tier of any year’s International Violin Competition of
Indianapolis’ finalists. That the pair produced as good a
“Kreutzer” as I’ve heard easily applies to the rest
of their program. Bring them back — at least bring Fong back.