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 Recent Reviews
SYMPHONY
ALEXANDER TORADZE DELIVERS A LESSON IN SERENITY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 05, 2019
An entire concerto movement consisting of serene piano melodies over a soothing backdrop is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when seeing Shostakovich’s name on an orchestra program, but that’s exactly what pianist Alexander Toradze delivered--twice--at Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony c...
SYMPHONY
MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON CLOSES WITH AUTUMNAL ELGAR AND THEATRICAL BEETHOVEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Mozart’s enchanting Overture to his opera The Magic Flute, a miniature tapestry of gems from the 1791 work, opened the Marin Symphony’s final concert of the 2018-2019 season. Under conductor Alasdair Neale, the playing of the sprightly seven-minute piece by a reduced-size classical ensemble sparkled...
RECITAL
SHAHAM-EGUCHI DUO'S EXCITING MUSICAL GENEROSITY IN WEILL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, April 26, 2019
Violinist Gil Shaham may be the most modest virtuoso on the concert stage today, and it is the great music he most wishes to put forward, never himself. Generosity, a quality he is known for, was abundantly clear in Weill Hall April 26 when he performed, with pianist Akira Eguchi, a generous program...
RECITAL
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
SYMPHONY
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
CHORAL AND VOCAL
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
SYMPHONY
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
RECITAL
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
CHAMBER
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
SYMPHONY
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Local Concerts  
RECITAL REVIEW
Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series / Wednesday, May 08, 2019
Kindra Scharich, mezzo-soprano; Jeffrey LaDeur, piano

K. Scharich and J. LaDeur May 8 at Spring Lake Village

THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL

by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019

An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six songs An die ferne Geliebte, Op. 98; selections from Fauré's La Bonne Chanson, Op. 61; and four of Copland’s Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson composed in 1950.

Mr. LaDeur also contributed two solo pieces: the first movement of Schumann's C Major Fantasy, Op. 17, and Liszt's "Sposalizio" from Deuxième Année de Pèlerinage: Italie. This was a full ninety-minute program with perhaps more introductory narrative of each piece than was necessary.

The Beethoven songs present a variety of interpretative challenges for a singer, and as with most of the song cycles by composers of the early to mid nineteenth century, this piece has been the province of tenors and baritones. Although women have always freely performed stand-alone German songs with gender neutral texts, they have mostly avoided the great cycles of Schubert and Schumann, which are uniformly sad tales of sad men. Women are only recently beginning to challenge the gender norm and explore this rich artistic territory. And yet, in spite of a desire to hear women tackling these great cycles, I've always felt that the mid-range male voice to be the most ideally suited to singing the consonant-rich and colorful text inflections of the German art song canon, the reason being that the singing range of the male voice sits primarily in its natural speaking range, which lends a speaking quality and immediacy to the poems that are being sung.

Women sing the same music but an octave (or two) higher than their natural speaking voices, and as a result, the speaking quality is weaker, and inflection and diction are in danger of becoming either lost or rather generalized. Depending on the acoustics of the hall, words can be more or less obscured in a live performance, particularly in the higher range, even though a skilled singer may have perfect diction. It's the eternal problem, especially in presenting an entire cycle. A cycle is essentially a very long epic monologue or ballade, and if inflection or diction are weak, then the songs take on a sameness of tone and can become tedious.

In this performance the hall was intimate enough to accommodate both a light voice and pianissimo singing, and Ms. Scharich's very light voice and delivery (while wanting a bit more heft) were otherwise well-suited to the piece from 1816. Although for me the ideal sound would contain more complexity, punch and "Germanic" depth, hers is a sympathetic, fresh, and buoyantly soaring mezzo-soprano of lovely clarity, pinpoint intonation and musical discipline, and I understood virtually every word. An expressive, relaxed, technically solid and committed singer with a pleasant stage demeanor, she moved calmly through the subtle mood changes of each poem, telling her personal reverie of melancholy contemplation, longing, impatience, joy, and finally exultation.

Mr. LaDeur and Ms. Scharich sing and play together very intimately and effectively. The pianist’s affinity for this music, his fiery style and technic framed these songs in a way that musically described the poetic content and Ms. Scharich's vocalism. The result was a coherent and satisfying rendition. If I could have wished for anything more from this performance, it would have been for both artists to have been musically even freer with the natural inner rubato contained in the poetry and music, giving a little more space here, a little more pause there. There is a fine line between allowing music and word to occasionally linger and hang in the air, and overindulging the moment, and I felt some moments could have hung a little longer.

Schumann’s great quasi sonata was played with extreme sonic contrasts and in a muscular style that well fitted this echt example of German romanticism. Presumably Mr. LaDeur selected it to highlight the thematic connection with the Beethoven song cycle. Dramatic license was taken with phrasing, and several inner voices were intriguing. With many in the hall I wanted to hear the subsequent mässig, durchaus energisch movement in the compatible E Flat, but time permitted only this potent reading of one movement of the masterful music. Dramatic playing continued in Liszt’s Sposalizio (“Wedding”) and Mr. LaDeur’s resounding left-hand octaves propelled much of the eight-minute work, as did the tonal warmth of the lovely slow section.


Ms. Scharich returned to sing four songs from Fauré’s La Bonne Chanson and closed the program with Copland's Dickinson settings, and she created a pleasingly idiomatic alteration to her vocal color as she sang in French and English. That said, the Fauré songs are a work in progress and she was not yet free enough from the score, which tended to reduce the performance quality. These songs work even more dreamily in the oft-performed string quartet version, but even if the visual experience was more like a rehearsal, this performance was a pleasure to listen to. The colleagues understand each other, and French suits Ms. Scharich's voice and temperament ideally.

Although this listener is not the greatest fan of every one of Copland's Dickinson Songs, the four that Ms. Scharich closed the program were among my favorites ("Nature, the Gentlest Mother", "Why Do They Shut Me Out of Heaven", "Heart, We Will Forget Him", and "Going to Heaven!"). Using the score as an occasional prompt did not interfere with her interpretations, and she rose to the technical challenges, completely immersed in these wonderful, stirring poems. Dissonances were perfectly tuned, and vocal acrobatics were effortless. It was a very strong ending to the program.


The acoustics of this venue are somewhat problematic in that the hall’s piano sound, although never totally obscuring Ms. Scharich singing, is bright and loud for the space. The lack of lighting and closeness of the audience to the performers tended to make Ms. Scharich sing over us rather than to us. The general ambiance of this recital would also have been enhanced with some mood-setting lighting, by creating more space between the performers and audience, and by the artists themselves choosing more elegant and/or interesting attire, rather than the “Casual Friday" look. I found myself wanting more visual presence and magic!











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Events Calendar

RECITAL
Sky Hill Cultural Alliance
Friday, May 24, 2019
7:30 PM - Petaluma
Jura Margulis, piano
Music of Tchaikovsky, Schumann and Mussorgsky (TBA) Tickets are $35 and $50 (in advance). Students admitted without charge. Complimentary wine and cheese after the recital ...
Details

CHORAL AND VOCAL
Sonoma Bach
Saturday, June 01, 2019
8:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Sonoma Bach Choir. Robert Worth, conductor. Live Oak Baroque Orchestra. Danielle Sampson, soprano;
Brahms: A German Requiem, Op. 45 The reduced orchestra arrangement is by Joachim Zinckelmann...
Details

CHORAL AND VOCAL
Sonoma Bach
Sunday, June 02, 2019
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Sonoma Bach Choir, Robert Worth, conductor. Live Oak Baroque Orchestra. Danielle Sampson, soprano;
Brahms: A German Requiem, Op. 45 The reduced orchestra version of the Requiem is by Joachim Linckelmann...
Details

CHAMBER
Echo Chamber Orchestra
Sunday, June 16, 2019
7:30 PM - San Anselmo
Daniel Canosa, conductor
“Coming Home." Doug Morton: Music for Brass, Strings and Percussion (World Premiere); Kevin Gordon: San Francisco Bouree; Brian S. Wilson: Symphony No. 2 ("Modes of Transportation"); Haydn: Symphony...
Details

CHAMBER
Valley of the Moon Music Festival
Saturday, July 13, 2019
8:00 PM - Sonoma
Erich Hoeprich, clarinet; Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin; Eric Vivian, piano
Mozart: E Flat Trio ("Kegelstatt") Donor Concert and Artist Reception; please contact VOM Music Festival For Information and availability...
Details

SYMPHONY
Mendocino Music Festival
Sunday, July 14, 2019
8:00 PM - Mendocino
Festival Orchestra. Allan Pollack, conductor. Stephen Prutsman, piano
Respighi: Pines of Rome; Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 21, K. 467; Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. Ravel)...
Details

CHAMBER
Valley of the Moon Music Festival
Sunday, July 14, 2019
4:00 PM - Sonoma
Tanya Tomkins, cello; Erich Hoeprich, clarinet; Elizabeth Blumenstock, viola; Cynthia Freivogel and
Clementi: Preludes TBA; Haydn Trio TBA; Beethoven: Clarinet Trio, Op. 11; Mozart: Clarinet Quintet in A, K. 581 Lecture at 2:30 by Irene Zanini Cordi. Tickets are $45, with under 35 $25. Optional di...
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RECITAL
Mendocino Music Festival
Monday, July 15, 2019
2:30 PM - Mendocino
Robert Schwartz, piano
Haydn: E-Flat Major Sonata; Brahms: 8 Pieces, Op. 76; Chopin: Barcarolle, Op. 60, and Impromptus in A Flat (Op. 29) and G Flat, Op. 51...
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CHAMBER
Mendocino Music Festival
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
2:30 PM - Mendocino
Calder String Quartet. Benjamin Jacobson and Andrew Bulbrook, violin; Jonathan Moerschal, viola; Er
Ravel F Major Quartet; Bjarnsanon: "Steel Shot"; Beethoven: B-flat major Quartet, Op. 130...
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RECITAL
Mendocino Music Festival
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
2:30 PM - Mendocino
Robin Sutherland, piano
Bach: Partita No. 2 (BWV 826), additional Bach TBA; Ravel: Sonatine; Haydn: C Minor Sonata (Hob XVI/20)...
Details