Pianist Charms with wit, humour and skill

By Sandra Wilmot
Special to The Daily Courier

The Kelowna Community Concert Association launched its 2010-11 concert season Friday at the Kelowna Community Theatre with a solo recital featuring pianist Sara Davis Buechner.

The capacity audience was treated to a wonderful evening of music laced together by Buechner's candid musings on a variety of topics. Her charming wit and delightful sense of humour shed light on the pieces she was presenting and connected instantly with her audience, which soaked it up with enthusiasm.

Buechner opened with Haydn's Sonata in E flat major. Her somewhat unorthodox interpretation and changes in tempi in the first movement Allegro were soon overshadowed by her depth and sensitivity in the second movement Adagio.

The joyful disposition of the Haydn was countered by the second piece on the program, the Sonata in F minor op.77; L'Invocation by the little-known Bohemian pianist/composer, Jan Dussek. This dark and brooding work showcased Buechner's command of the piano and her incredible artistry. She evoked a sense of reverence and almost religious feeling in the second movement, a depth only someone of her stature and experience can achieve.

The second half had a distinctly New York City flavour, brought to life not only by the pieces presented, but by Buechner's love and understanding of the city where she spent much of her career before moving to Vancouver where she is currently associate professor of piano and piano literature at the University of British Columbia. She opened with the Cocktail Suite by New York composer Dana Suesse which, despite being rather frivolous, did have a certain charm. (It probably would have been enhanced had the audience actually enjoyed a few of the drinks the various movements were named after.)

Buechner ended the evening with arguably one of the best known and loved pieces in the piano repertoire, George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, which she played with much bravura. Originally scored for piano and orchestra, Buechner tackled the daunting solo piano version made by the composer after the work's premiere in 1924.

The concert ended in an enthusiastic standing ovation from the audience which was treated to an encore from Buechner, her own composition, a beautiful lullaby entitled 'Cancion Para dos Ninos'.

A fitting conclusion to an inspiring evening of words and music.

Sandra Wilmot is a Kelowna-based freelance musician, composer, educator, and violin instructor. She plays professionally with both the Okanagan and Kamloops Symphony orchestras and maintains a large studio of violin students, both privately and at the Kelowna Community Music School.