Canadian-born Ryo Yanagitani dazzled guests and kicked off the month of holiday cheer last week with his splendid performance of Russian Christmas songs at Everymay Estate last week. Beginning with “Fairy Tale in B flat minor” from Nicolai Medtner, the luminous virtuoso played just over an hour and included personal remarks describing his relationship to each piece.
“Four Pieces” by Sergei Prokofiev proved to be a dynamic crowdpleaser, taking the audience through dramatic musical interpretations using the movements “Reminiscence,” “Elan,” “Despair,” and “Diabolic Suggestions.” This opus was particularly evocative of a brutal Russian winter, concluding with an energetic and mischievous piece that garnered high praise from guests.
Ryo has distinguished himself as one of Canada’s most promising young concert artists. His most recent success includes winning the gold medal at the 10th San Antonio International Piano Competition, where he was also given special recognition for a performance of the complete Chopin Ballades. He is also the grand prize winner of the Hugo Kauder International Piano Competition and a laureate of the Minnesota International Piano-e-Competition, the Dr Luis Sigall International Piano Competition in Vina del Mar (Chile), and the Hilton Head International Piano Competition.
It wouldn’t be a concert of Russian Christmas music without Tchaikovsky’s famed “Nutcracker Suite.” Though the familiar sounds of the ballet accompaniment seemed almost simple set against the complex, moody tones of the rest of the concert, they provided a pleasant and welcome spot of brightness. Additionally, Ryo’s playful presentation made for an excellent, multi-sensory experience.
Founded in 2000 by Dr. Sachiko Kuno and Dr. Ryuji Ueno, the S&R Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to support talented individuals with great potential and high aspirations in the arts and sciences, especially those who are furthering international cultural collaboration. The Foundation sponsors annual award programs, hosts events and works with its partners to encourage scientific and artistic innovation, and promote cultural and personal growth.