From Bach to Haydn: Daniel Yen ’18 Showcases Musical Talents in Recital

Vigorously moving his bow back and forth, Daniel Yen ’18 played “Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Hob. VIIb/1” by Franz Joseph Haydn in his solo student recital last Sunday in the Timken Room of Graves Music Hall. With his fingers occasionally lifting to create an increasing pitch echoed by the piano accompaniment, played by Joy Cline-Phinney, Adjunct Instructor in Music, the notes flowed from his cello, as the piece came to a conclusion with a quiet, deep final note.

“Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Hob. VIIb/1” was one of three pieces performed during the Student Recital featuring Yen on the cello. According to Yen, he dedicated multiple hours every day for four months to practice in preparation for this concert.

“I think the thing about performances is that listeners may not realize thousands of hours, or at least hundreds, are spent in preparation. There are pieces that are hard to maintain the energy and the love for the piece after you’ve played it for so long. But the music is so energetic and the music wants to be free, so it’s hard not to be energetic when I’m playing,” said Yen.

Another song performed by Yen was Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011,” which featured multi-dimensional tones produced by intentionally bowing two strings simultaneously. As Yen inhaled with each break of his bow, the low notes cut off quickly only to be played again just as fast. The melodic notes periodically interrupted by a short series of fast grace notes, always finishing with two, slurred tones.

“I really like the ‘Sarabande.’ It’s quite dissonant, which is not what comes to mind when you think of Bach’s music, but it’s unique in that way. Bach is always challenging because modern cellists, like Haydn and Shostakovich are very much based on legato, melodic, more singing type of playing and Bach is much more based on chords and is a bit choppier. It’s a different type of playing entirely,” said Yen.

Another song Yen performed was “Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor, Op. 40” by Dmitri Shostakovich. While Yen played the same scale repeatedly, the piano, following his lead, played the same scale. Suddenly, the piano dropped out, allowing the cello’s notes to speed up as Yen rapidly moved his left hand up and down the bottom length of his cello, creating an airy, raw sound.

“I really liked the second ‘Allegro’ in the Shostakovich. I heard Daniel play a lot, and I think this specific piece had a lot of his emotions. It showed that he worked on it a lot, and he was able to get all of the dynamics in the piece and bring out his own flair,” said Anushree Gupta ’18, a concert attendee.