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 Recent Reviews
SYMPHONY
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
SYMPHONY
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
SYMPHONY
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
SYMPHONY
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
SYMPHONY
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
RECITAL
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
CHAMBER
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
CHORAL AND VOCAL
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
OPERA
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
SYMPHONY
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Local Concerts  
RECITAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Friday, February 08, 2019
Joshua Bell, violin; Sam Haywood, piano

Joshua Bell (l) and Sam Haywood Feb. 8 in Weill Hall (Brennan Spark Photography)

INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL

by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019

A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling technique, precise intonation and powerful thematic projection. An easy rapport between the two was a joy to hear and observe.

Beethoven’s enigmatic fourth Sonata 4 in A minor, Op. 23, opened the program. The intense first movement, presto, launches into a gallopy dialogue from which thematic poignancy emerged with a sense of fleeting beauty. Beethoven began the sonata in 1801 when his hearing was deteriorating, and his anxiety at the time likely made its way into the work. Mr. Bell did not emphasize the sadness implicit in the first movement but let the character of the minor mode, in which most of the movement is written, predominate.

In the following andante scherzo, piu allegretto, brief fragmentary declarations moved back and forth between piano and violin, and a fugue section resolved effectively in trills from both instruments. In the concluding third movement, the instrumental voices sang an allegro molto operatic duet with the music’s lyrical longing undercut by ominous rumbling. The three-note ascending figurations in the Sonata seemed to question whether to go forward or give up, but the spritely motive from the first movement returned, and all was resolved suddenly and quietly. An impressive and intriguing reading.

Prokofiev wrote his stunning D Major Flute Sonata in 1942, and Soviet violinist David Oistrakh suggested the composer recast it for his instrument, giving it the opus number 94a. As performed here it was a revelation. The first of four movements (moderato) is characterized by transcendent leaps and slides and insistent rhythms, with the theme repeated in different registers and reinvented countless times, but the score also contains a certain claustrophobic feeling.

In the second scherzo, presto a wild dance ensues, leading toward a lyrical section where the violin part mimes bird trills and calls. Spring and rebirth are suggested in the music, with an undertone of unease, and the performer’s flying fingers brought the Sonata to an exciting close, inspiring some of the audience to break into applause. The artists paused until the enthusiasm abated, then proceeded to the sonata’s romantic andante in which the opening theme is reiterated with exotic harmonies and figurations characteristic of the composer. The Sonata’s finale was thrilling, with Sisyphean ascents and precipitous violin downslides. Both the last two movements are fashioned classically and emotionally “cool,” and the work ended quietly, as though with philosophical resignation.

Following intermission the artists returned to perform Grieg’s Sonata No. 2, Op. 13, a work from 1867 that isn’t played as much as the C Minor Op. 45 piece written 20 years later. The first lento doloroso movement initially reflected a dirge that settled into something quite cheerful as a mini-cadenza in the violin part stated the theme and broke into a Norwegian folk dance. Mr. Bell’s bow exhibited a light touch that underscored the music’s joy with leaps and hops of phrasing. In the second movement the violinist’s interpretation showcased quick emotional changes, and his playing in the closing allegro animato featured piquant pizzicatos, dark tonal colors and deft phrases that built momentum to a thrilling conclusion.

The audience erupted in applause. After three curtain calls, Mr. Bell addressed the audience, kindly inquiring about the condition of a patron who had fainted and been taken out during the Beethoven. He then continued that he and Mr. Haywood would finish with three short encore works, and proceeded to Clara Schumann’s Romance, Op. 22, No. 1, which he played with poignant grace and heart-stirring warmth, blending beautifully with Mr. Haywood’s soft arpeggio chords and elegant phrasing.

Joachim’s arrangement of the Brahms first Hungarian Dance came next, and here the violinist gave way to his gypsy soul, playing with dramatic verve and convincing rubato. The last encore was Wieniawski’s Scherzo-Tarantelle, Op. 16, a show-stopper work that was played at turns playfully and fast, with lyrical interludes, and always with brilliant technique. Mr. Bell told the audience that he had recently returned to it after many years. It had been part of his first youthful recital decades ago.

Events Calendar

CHAMBER
Green Music Center
Saturday, February 16, 2019
7:30 PM - Rohnert Park
A Far Cry
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048; Glass: Symphony No. 3; Bartok: Divertimento for String Orchestra, Sz 113; Golijov: Tenebrae...
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CHAMBER
Opus Chamber Music Series
Sunday, February 17, 2019
3:00 PM - Mendocino
Amis Jouant
Music of Bach, Telemann and Boismortier...
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CHAMBER
Mill Valley Chamber Music Society
Sunday, February 17, 2019
5:00 PM - Mill Valley
St. Lawrence String Quartet. Geoff Nuttal and Owen Dalby, violin; Lesley Robertson, viola; Christop
Haydn: Quartet in D, Op. 20, No. 4; Beethoven: Quartet, Op. 132 (third movement); Golijov: The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac The Blind; Jonathan Berger: Tango Alla Zingarese...
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RECITAL
Cinnabar Theater
Sunday, February 17, 2019
7:30 PM - Petaluma
Daniel Glover, pianist
Liszt: Sonata in B Minor, S. 178, Six Consolations; works by Beryl Rubinstein, Gershwin and Gottschalk TBA Tickets are $25...
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CHAMBER
Contemporary Chamber Music: Lake Winds
Sunday, February 17, 2019
2:00 PM - Lakeport
Patricia Jekel, flute; Beth Aiken, oboe; Nick Biondo, clarinet; Kathy Whren, bassoon; Kelsey Vorce,
Music TBA, and will include Bach and contemporary composers $20.00 - Open Seating; 18 and under are free...
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CHORAL AND VOCAL
Cantiamo Sonoma
Sunday, February 17, 2019
5:30 PM - Santa Rosa
Cantiamo Sonoma. Carol Menke, director; Robert Young, organ
Choral Evensong. Music by Humphrey Clucas, Sweelinck, William Crotch, Nicolas Custer and Edward Bairstow Free will donation....
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CHAMBER
Sonoma State University Department of Music
Sunday, February 17, 2019
2:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Trio Navarro. Marilyn Thompson, piano; Victor Romasevich, violin; Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello
Haydn: Trio in B-flat Major, Hob. XV: 20; Mendelssohn: Trio No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 66; Arensky: Trio No. 2 in F, Op. 73...
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RECITAL
Vocal Recital
Saturday, February 23, 2019
2:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Carol Menke, soprano; Marilyn Thompson, piano
Three songs each by Schumann, Fauré, and Strauss; four songs each by Turina and Robert Sheldon; Copland: four songs from "Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson'; three songs on the text "Weep You No More" b...
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OTHER
Redwood Empire AGO
Sunday, February 24, 2019
2:00 PM - Santa Rosa
Richard Wayland, Janis Wilson, Dave Hatt and John Partridge
Composer's Forum...
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CHORAL AND VOCAL
Cantiamo Sonoma
Friday, March 01, 2019
8:00 PM - Petaluma
Cantiamo Sonoma. Carol Menke, director
Northern Lights: Music inspired by the heavens, written by Eriks Esenvalds, Ola Gjeilo, Arvo Pärt, Daniel Elder, Frank Ticheli, Rachmaninov, and TBA. Free will donation....
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