Buechner is a deeply experienced musician with the kind of technique frequently heard downstairs in Carnegie’s main hall; agile, powerful, and exciting. But what really sets her apart is found from the neck up—the program she put together was as thoughtful and superb as her pianism.
As forms of wordless storytelling, mime and music are sister arts that rarely share a stage. Yet they came together on Thursday evening at Weill Recital Hall. There, the pianist Sara Davis Buechner was joined by the mime dancer Yayoi Hirano in a performance of Jacques Ibert’s “Histoires” in which the addition of spare, precise movements and Noh-style masks deepened the music’s mystery and whimsy.
Philadelphia has a major new pianist in residence: Sara Davis Buechner, who was recently namedfaculty pianist at Temple University. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns discovered in her a manifesto for artistic survival.
In possession of a fearsome technique, Sara Davis Buechner has enjoyed engagements as soloist with many leading U.S. orchestras that include the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, and the National Orchestra in Washington, D.C.
“I thought that I had heard most of the fantastic pianists who reside in the Pacific Northwest, but now I have to add another, Sara Davis Buechner, to my list after hearing her deliver an electrifying performance of George Gershwin’s Concerto in F with the Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra at the First United Methodist Church on Friday evening (April 29th).”
Solo piano concerts have come to hold a dual, contradictory status. They are ubiquitous in classical circles, where they serve didactic and diagnostic purposes through competitions and senior recitals. They’re also something of an anachronism in the contemporary sonic landscape, where digital listening threatens its live counterpart. Last Wednesday night, pianist Sara Davis Buechner brought something essential back to the Barnes Hall stage that too often eludes the musically inclined among us: humility.
“La fuerza de la tierra’’ fue el título que abrazó el primer concierto de la nueva temporada de la Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico. Después de la exitosa participación de la orquesta en el Festival Casals, la Sala Sinfónica del Centro de Bellas Artes de Santurce, vibraba en la espera del delicioso menú que ofrecía el programa del pasado sábado 28, el cual estuvo salpicado del poder que tienen la melancolía y la tristeza en los grandes creadores.
SPRINGFIELD — The bucolic charm of the German countryside vied for attention with urban American angst Saturday evening as Maestro Kevin Rhodes and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra presented a contrasting double bill of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral” and Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety,” featuring pianist Sara Davis Buechner.
Classical pianist Sara Davis Buechner played with some of the most prestigious orchestras in the United States, winning praise from presidents and capturing awards that pointed to a promising career as one of the best in the world.
As if to prove that her music-making wasn’t all fireworks and technical wizardry, pianist Sara Davis Buechner opened her program at the National Gallery on Sunday with Mozart’s brief and youthful E-Flat Major Sonata, K 282 in a reading that opened almost languidly, proceeded with beautifully calculated ornamentation and rhythmic elasticity and concluded with cheerful simplicity.
As David Buechner, born in the northwest suburbs of Baltimore in 1959, I became an internationally known concert pianist. But from the time I was a child, I understood that I was meant to be Sara. In those days, there was no information nor discussion of anything outside the heterosexual template. Nor were there role models for transgender children.
It is always something of a letdown when Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann doesn’t preface a program selection at a Canton Symphony Orchestra (CSO) concert with his special brand of wit, sardonic or otherwise. Ever the engaging raconteur, he didn’t disappoint on the occasion of the December 2 performance at Umstattd Hall.
No, you don’t have to read W.H. Auden’s long, impenetrable, Pulitzer Prize-winning poem The Age of Anxiety to understand what inspired Leonard Bernstein to compose a piece for solo piano and orchestra with the same title for his second symphony. Sara Davis Buechner has already done the work for the audience. “I certainly read the poem, more in terms of getting the general atmosphere of it,” says Buechner, the piano soloist with the Florida Orchestra this weekend. “I think Bernstein saw his life in New York in the poem.”
Buechner began by playing “The Age of Anxiety,” a highly energetic piece from Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, just one of a number of pieces the symphony had chosen for their New World A-Comin’ concert, which took place on November 4. The show featured an array of music by American composers like Duke Ellington and George Gershwin, as well as by the Argentinian Alberto Ginastera.
In 1947, W.H. Auden wrote his poem “The Age of Anxiety,” which is about the search for faith in a world filled with such terrible events that meaning seems hard if not impossible to find. Leonard Bernstein — in his late 20s, thinking about spiritual truths — became obsessed with the poem, which provoked him to compose his Symphony No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, “The Age of Anxiety,” a work of tough beauty.
“A Night in a Spanish Garden” was the title of the San Jose Chamber Orchestra’s season-opening concert Sunday at Le Petit Trianon. Pianist Sara Davis Buechner was the soloist, an enchanter at the keyboard — and as a speaker, setting the audience at ease in every way. For this listener, it was like walking into a college seminar with a genius lecturer who takes you on a journey to secret places — without leaving the room.
I love creativity in all its forms and my role models are hardly limited to fellow musicians. As a pianist I always wished to follow in the profoundly important tracks of Franz Liszt, Ferruccio Busoni, Dinu Lipatti, Clara Haskil, and my own teacher at Juilliard, the late Rudolf Firkusny. But my own approach to the piano and its sounds has been deeply influenced by flamenco and kabuki dance, the motion pictures of Kurasawa, Naruse and Charlie Chaplin, the paintings of Vermeer and Renoir, the writing of J.D. Salinger. Willa Cather and Shusaku Endo, grand American architecture of the Art Deco era, the baseball artistry of Jim Palmer, Don Mattingly, Kei Igawa and Ichiro Suzuki, and even witnessing the varied religious services of the Buddhist, Jewish, Catholic and 7th Day Adventist faith
IN September 1998, David Buechner, then 39, a prominent classical pianist, came out as a transgender woman, explaining that from then on, she would live and perform as Sara Davis Buechner. The pianist had been accustomed to rave reviews (at 24, David, in his New York City concert debut, was called “an extraordinary young artist” by a New York Times critic). But the debut as Sara, reported in a Times magazine article, was not so well received, even by loved ones.
Née David in Baltimore, USA, Sara Davis Buechner came out as a transgendered woman in the 1990’s. She was in the midst of a brilliant career as a classical pianist and teacher. A graduate of the music program at New York’s Julliard School, she was awarded the bronze medal in the 1986 Tchaikovsky Competition. Held in Moscow every four years, the Tchaikovsky is the Olympics of classical music: very prestigious!
Because pianists, unlike violinists, for example, depend on an instrument of remarkable technical complexity, listeners are sometimes tempted to believe that all pianists with a perfect technique have so much in common that telling them apart must be a tremendous task. True, in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, a high level of virtuosity is taken for granted. Nevertheless, even among flawless players, one immediately discerns profound differences.