Review in Maine Classical Beat

FRANCO CENTER PIANO SERIES OPENS WITH INNOVATIONS

By Christopher Hyde
"One of the most unusual concerts in many a season opened the 12th annual piano series of the Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston Friday night.  Its innovations were matched by the quality of the performances by pianist David Fung and Daniel Moody, countertenor.

The first half of the program was devoted to piano works with unusual (or zero) rhythmic patterns, beginning with the Mozart Sonata No. 5 in G Major, one of the complete Mozart sonata cycle that Fung is compiling for the Steinway “Spiro” high-resolution player piano.

It was followed by “Impressões Seresteiras,” W.374, by Heitor Villa-Lobos, a compilation of “street songs” in 3/4 time, which manages to be avant-garde and nostalgic at the same time.

The “Île de feu, 1” from “Four Studies in Rhythm” by Olivier Messiaen, has no bar lines at all, its rhythm being dictated by the feel of note patterns.  Under Fung’s hands,it was a tour de force of technique, complete with one of the composer’s beloved bird calls (I think it was a blackbird).

Fung, who holds a doctorate from the Yale School of Music, and has taught there, prefaced each work with revelatory remarks.  In describing his arrangement of Ravel’s “La Valse,” he noted that the work has been compared to Poe’s tale, “The Masque of the Red Death,” and occasioned a challenge to Ravel by choreographer Serge Diaghilev, who had commissioned the work.  The duel, apparently, was never fought.

Whatever the work’s history, Fung’s arrangement captures its brooding nature perfectly, in a manner even more virtuosic than the popular two-piano transcription.

After intermission, Fung accompanied countertenor David Moody in works by Dowling, Handel, and contemporary William Bolcom, all which were thoroughly delightful.  Countertenors combine the power of the male voice with the vocal range of a mezzo-soprano.  They were most popular in heroic roles at the time of Purcell, but they seem to be making a welcome comeback nowadays. Moody is one of the best.  He also showed a sense of humor in the very short Bolcom pieces, one of which consists of two lines: “I’ll never forgive you.  For my behavior.”

Fung concluded the program with a brilliant interpretation of Schubert’s great “Wanderer” Fantasy in C Major, D. 760. After this grueling effort - Schubert himself and a hard time with it -Fung managed a spritely encore of a Scarlatti Sonata in D Minor.

I have written his before, but it bears repeating: the Franco Center’s piano series is the best kept secret, and the foremost value ($10.00 for seniors) of any concert series in Maine.  Christopher Hyde is a writer and musician who lives in Pownal. He can be reached at classbeat@netscape.net."

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Review in the News Tribune

Review: Pianist David Fung spices up a subdued Symphony Tacoma

By Rosemary Ponnekanti
"Maybe it was the Rialto Theater — suddenly live and demanding crisper vivacity than their usual Pantages home. Or maybe it was a reduced Mozart orchestra, something they’re not famous for. Whatever the case, Symphony Tacoma produced a concert Saturday night that went quickly from lush to lackluster, only spicing up at the end thanks to a witty combination of pianist David Fung and Beethoven. ...

Not so Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, saved for last (a staging issue, probably) and definitely the best. Fung doesn’t make a big sound, but his wit and vivacity more than compensate. Sudden switches to piano, luxurious triplets, playful staccato runs that tiptoed into nothing made the first movement a joy, with the orchestra handling Beethoven’s mood swings with style. In the second movement, Fung gave his melodies an aching nostalgia, barely there, with a long pedal resonance that hinted at the Romanticism that was to come to Beethoven’s Vienna in the form of Gustav Mahler. A sweet oboe played lyrically over clouds of piano arpeggios into a spellbinding dialogue. The finale was another gallop, with Fung dancing his heels with glee and alternating quicksilver runs with comic pauses.

A Scarlatti sonata made an odd choice of encore, but showcased Fung’s highly original musicality."

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Review of Weill Hall Recital with violinist Francisco Fullana

By Frank Daykin
"Pro Musicis continued its mission statement “Awaken the human spirit” in fine form last night with the recital of its 2015 award winner, Spanish violinist Francisco Fullana. The program was beautifully conceived, stunningly well-played, and thoughtful connections were drawn between the pieces on each half.  His pianist, David Fung, was superb. 

The program opened with a radiant interpretation of Bach’s Sonata for Violin and Keyboard in E major, BWV 1016. Mr. Fullana’s tone was appropriately scaled down (but never sterile), and he and Mr. Fung did not allow one single opportunity for dialog between the parts to go unexplored or unshaped. The technique and style were impeccable. In the final movement (which is preceded by a sorrowful cantilena), the sense of playfulness and joy of both players was vivid.

After intermission, Mr. Fullana and Mr. Fung resumed their collaboration with one of Mozart’s most experimental sonatas in what was still a relatively new genre: the piano and violin sonata, with his Sonata, K. 303 (293c) in C major. Mozart stealthily gives the impression of two movements for the price of one, with the opening Adagio followed by an Allegro molto, until one realizes that those tempi changes are but the different parts of one sonata-form movement. There follows the true second movement, a Tempo di Menuetto, courtly dances often being considered the only polite way to end a “scholarly” piece like a sonata. In this work, both players recapped the almost supernatural unity they had found in the Bach, with perfect matching of articulation and phrase shape. It was perfection, and I don’t use that word lightly. Too often players either minimize or trivialize these gems.

Then came the sprawling Sonata for Violin and Piano by Richard Strauss (E-flat major, Op. 18), a composer not always thought of for his chamber music. The magic of collaboration continued with superb sensitivity to every harmonic shift (they occur about every two seconds in this work), and great virtuosity from both players. Mr. Fullana’s Stradivarius really got its “lungs expanded” in the big dimensions required by the piece, and Fung never overbalanced, amid the monster piano part. The aggressive moments were handled well, but in the soaring songlike melodies the transfiguration was even better.

After a large ovation, Mr. Fullana and Mr. Fung played two of De Falla’s violin arrangements (from songs): Nana (a lullaby) andEl Paño moruno (the Moorish cloth, a metaphor for virginity!) with yearning authenticity.

Bravo to Pro Musicis for its track record, and to these three artists for elevating a room full of listeners seeking beauty."

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Melbourne Chamber Orchestra Review

Talent to Spare

By Clive O'Connell
"David Fung gave an incisive reading of the F Major Concerto, a work you would be lucky to hear once in a double-decade.  His Mozart is no limpid aristocrat but a vital, even prickly individual with a turn for the idiosyncratic, like the Beethoven-heavy left-hand chords for the soloist that come out of nowhere in bars 82 and 86 of the first Allegro, and the oddly unsettling shape of the first two phrases of the Larghetto‘s main theme.   Fung made interesting work of each paragraph, notably in the solidly argued initial movement but what impressed most was his fusion with the MCO; he’s an ideal soloist in his awareness of where he fits in to a concerto’s framework, which made his merging into the score’s activity after tutti passages and cadenzas a model of responsibility.

Even better came with the E flat work; but then, it’s more engaging in its material.   Fung raised the aggression level slightly so that his initial entries came across with energizing brio.   Still, his legato passage work proved admirable – evenly paced and set out with care for its crescendo/diminuendo potential – and throughout this and the preceding work his ornamentation was worked into the fabric with a sensibility that would have done credit to a player many years his senior.   Of special note was Fung’s account of the first movement cadenza – Mozart’s own?  – where the brusque power of the preceding development came into a kind of heightened focus.   Across the whole work, Fung displayed an authority and decisiveness that made even the main body of the four-square finale a feast of elegantly contoured articulation."

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Rave Review in the Cleveland Classical

Cleveland Orchestra with Michael Francis & pianist David Fung at Blossom (July 16)

By Daniel Hathaway
"David Fung, making both his Cleveland Orchestra and Blossom debuts, played the solo part with Apollonian clarity and understatement (sometimes vanishing momentarily into the orchestral texture). His expressive playing in the Andante was everything you could wish for, and the concluding Rondo was charming and buoyant.

The Blossom audience loved Fung’s performance and wouldn’t let him go. He finally returned to the Steinway for a dashing, infectious encore: the Presto from Mozart’s Piano Sonata in F, No. 2."

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Review of Cleveland Orchestra debut in The Plain Dealer

Cleveland Orchestra muses run to London and Paris on charming weekend at Blossom

By Mark Satola
"In the midst of a weekend of 20th century Anglo-Francophilia, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, with young pianist David Fung, was something of an odd man out, with its Rococo sheen and classical poise. Fung, making his Cleveland Orchestra debut, proved an agile and alert interpreter of Mozart's crystalline note-spinning. His sensitive reading of the famous Andante was the highlight of the concerto, and Francis directed the accompaniment, quite innovative for its time, with a fine ear for balance." 

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Solo recital debut at Lincoln Center's Great Performers Series

David will have his solo recital debut at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater in December of 2016.

“Stylish and articulate” (New York Times) with “undoubted talent” (Los Angeles Times), pianist David Fung is a poetic performer whose consummate virtuosity and thoughtful musicality has garnered numerous awards and competition victories. At this Sunday morning recital, he spins a musical tale that spans the centuries, from a collection of Scarlatti sonatas to a world premiere piece written for him by rising Bay Area composer Samuel Carl Adams.

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