Review: The Journey with Y-Squared, Melbourne Recital Centre

Raphael Solarsh

Prodigious talents constrained by overly-technical and one-paced program.
Review: The Journey with Y-Squared, Melbourne Recital Centre

Yasmin Rowe and Yelian He. Photo via Melbourne Recital Centre.  

There can be little doubt that Yelian He and Yasmine Rowe are outstanding musicians, but like quality actors presented with a sub-par script or director, there is only so much that the players can do. The Journey is not short of ambition, nor are its performers lacking in ability but as a whole it was a concert that was unable to find gears beyond third.

Martinu’s Variation on a theme of Rossini offered a playful and sanguine start but signalled an upbeat tone that the performers seemed to feel obliged to maintain. Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Cello Op. 5, No. 2 followed, another pleasing and warm number, despite its minor designation. Two Kapustin numbers, with their jazzy formwork, saw out the first half of the program. Chopin’s Cello Sonata in G Minor picked up where the Beethoven has temporarily left off, without differentiating itself a great deal. And then from no-where a remarkable rendition of Rostopovich’s Humoresque.

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Suddenly the stage was alive, if only for a few minutes, with the energy, passion and recklessness that the rest of the program had been missing. It was a touch of wonderful mania, a sudden provocation to pleasant dinner conversation. But also a curious demonstration that the emotional depth was there and yet inexplicably sacrificed to technical, albeit very impressive, execution of complex pieces in Chopin and Beethoven or light-hearted frolics in Rossini and Kapustin.

With two encores, Y-squared ran to almost two hours, a span too far for a program that lacked a sense of journey. Again, this is not to detract from the prodigious talents of He and Rowe both jointly and individually but when added to the encores, the procession of children and multiple bouquets of flowers, it all felt a bit much.

Yelian He and Yasmine Rowe will no doubt return and continue to produce outstanding music for they are both wonderful talents but on this outing with this program, they weren’t quite able to strike the right note.

3 ½ stars ★★★☆

The Journey with Y-Squared
Yelian He Cellist
Yasmin Rowe Pianist  
Presented by Music World

29 October 2018
Melbourne Recital Centre

 
What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Raphael Solarsh is writer from Melbourne whose work has appeared in The Guardian, on Writer’s Bloc and in a collection of short stories entitled Outliers: Stories of Searching. When not seeing shows, he writes fiction and blogs at raphaelsolarsh.com and tweets @RS_IndiLit.