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Saturday, November 17, 2018
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 Recent Reviews
RECITAL
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
CHAMBER
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
SYMPHONY
PEACE AND LOVE FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Before the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 4 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” Symphony CEO Alan Silow took a moment to acknowledge the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and to observe that music offers a more peaceful and loving view of the world. Mr. ...
CHAMBER
ATOS TRIO IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 04, 2018
When the ATOS Piano Trio planned their all-Russian touring program at their Berlin home base, it had a strong elegiac, even tragic theme that surely resonated with their Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience Nov. 4 in Mill Valley. Comprised of Annette von Hehn, violin; Thomas Hoppe, piano; and...
CHAMBER
ATOS TRIO IN OCCIDENTAL CHAMBER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 03, 2018
When the Berlin-based ATOS Piano Trio entered the cramped Occidental Performing Arts stage Nov. 3, the audience of 100 anticipated familiar works in the announced all-Russian program. What they got was a selection of rarely-plays trios, with a gamut of emotions. Then one-movement Rachmaninoff G Mi...
SYMPHONY
MIGHTY SHOSTAKOVICH 10TH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Just two works were on the opening program of the Marin Symphony’s 67th season Oct. 28, Tchaikovsky’s iconic D Major Violin Concerto, and Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony. Before a full house in the Marin Center Auditorium conductor Alasdair Neale set a judicious opening tempo in the brief orchestra i...
SYMPHONY
VIVALDI FOR ALL SEASONS IN WEILL BAROQUE CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, October 27, 2018
The Venice Baroque Orchestra, a dozen superb musicians that include strings, harpsichord and recorder, played an uplifting concert Oct. 27 of mostly Vivaldi sinfonias and concertos. The Weill Hall audience of 600 had rapt attention throughout, and the playing was of the highest musical level. This r...
RECITAL
LIN'S PIANISM AND PERSONA CHARM SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 21, 2018
In somewhat of a surprise a sold out Schroeder Hall audience greeted pianist Steven Lin Oct. 21 in his local debut recital. Why a surprise? Because Mr. Lin was pretty much unknown in Northern California, and Schroeder is rarely, very rarely sold out for a single instrumentalist. But no matter, and...
CHAMBER
HEROIC TRUMPET AND ORGAN MUSIC AT INCARNATION
by Jerry Dibble
Friday, October 12, 2018
The strong connections between Santa Rosa’s musical community and California State University Chico were on display Oct. 12 as David Rothe, Professor Emeritus in the Chico Music Department, and Ayako Nakamura, trumpet with the North State Symphony, presented a concert titled “Heroic Music for Trumpe...
SYMPHONY
LECCE-CHONG PROVES HIS METTLE WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 07, 2018
Francesco Lecce-Chong was handed two warhorses for his debut as conductor of the Santa Rosa Symphony, and he rode them both to thrilling victory. For the first win, Brahms’ violin concerto, he owed much to soloist Arnaud Sussman, but for the other triumph, Beethoven’s fifth symphony, he and his musi...
Local Concerts  
RECITAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Friday, November 09, 2018
Peter Serkin, piano

Pianist Peter Serkin

SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018

Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike.

It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard approach to Mozart’s B Minor Adagio (K. 540) and the K. 570 B-Flat Major Sonata, and to Bach’s Goldberg Variations that comprised the second half. Current international Mozartians (Andras Schiff, Mitsuko Uchida) play with little damper pedal and brisk tempos, similar to more distant Mozart virtuosi Alfred Brendel, Paul Badura-Skoda, Lili Kraus, Emil Gilels and Walter Gieseking.

Mr. Serkin began by playing the lovely Adagio with a chaste tone and at a pace that at 15 minutes was many minutes slower than prevailing practice. He used large ritards and occasionally the musical line slowed almost to a vanishing point. His unique hand vibrato on key tops (his father Rudolf also did this) elicited comments from some of the 350 in the audience. And, no, the sound doesn’t change by key message, as once the wool piano hammer hits the string, the sound only decays.

Slow playing over 21 minutes in the Sonata highlighted the contrapuntal lines of the work, one of Mozart’s last big piano pieces. The pianist’s self effacing approach and intense focus worked best in the long and complex adagio where his attention to the smallest compositional detail was palpable. Small breaks in the sound (“luftpause” in German) bordered on affectation. The fermata on the penultimate chord must have lasted eight seconds.

In the allegretto finale Mr. Serkin surprised by finding a few inner voices but notes in scale playing were never distinct because of generous pedal application, and with such a pokey tempo (for an allegretto) the interpretation became a little mundane. Perhaps listeners in Weill might have thought Mr. Serkin’s approach to Mozart was limited by pianistic technique, but I think the result is simply how he feels the music, and the light he sheds on the composer’s genius. Certainly there was much to admire in such an interpretative concept, although with ponderous tempos there was danger that the musical line would be breached. It never was.

Bach’s towering Goldberg Variations (a sarabande with 30 variations) followed intermission, and began with a not slow setting out of the chaste theme, albeit with the pianist teasing the ends of phrases. In the nearly 50-minute traversal of the 1742 work Mr. Serkin again eschewed contemporary interpretations, choosing instead slow tempos with room for contrapuntal voicing and sporadic left-hand accents. He wrapped his arms around the Goldberg using warm pianistic colors, constant legato phrasing, softly arpeggiated chords that ended many individual variations, and accentuation of Bach’s piquant dissonances.

A shortcoming in this artistic conception was the potential for boredom, as the slow tempos and instrumental volume throughout the variations were similar, and in fact there wasn’t a strong forte all evening. In sum, Mr. Serkin’s self effacing approach to Bach was always interesting and authoritative, but for me ultimately unconvincing.

Silence in the hall lasted many seconds after the final soft unison g notes, the artist slowly lifting his hands and humbly acknowledging the standing ovation. No encore was offered or needed.

Classical Sonoma reviews rarely mention extra-musical items, such as artist clothing or interminable commentary from the stage, but the tall pianist was uniquely attired in a conventional vested business suit, pocket handkerchief and dark red tie, and sat almost motionless at his instrument.










Events Calendar

CHORAL AND VOCAL
Marin Baroque
Saturday, November 17, 2018
8:00 PM - San Anselmo
Marin Baroque Chamber Choir and Orchestra. Daniel Canosa, director
Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience: French and Spanish music of the Renaissance. William Blake poetry. Clément Janequin: Le Chant des Oiseaux; Juan Vásquez: Con Que la Lavare, and TBA. Tick...
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SYMPHONY
Sonoma State University Symphony Orchestra
Saturday, November 17, 2018
7:30 PM - Rohnert Park
Alexander Kahn, conductor. ELM, Simply Strings and Valley Vibes
Gabriela Ortiz: Patios for orchestra; Bernstein: Somewhere (arr. Jamie Bernstein); Dvorák: Symphony No. 9, in E Minor, Op. 95 ("From the New World")...
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SYMPHONY
Sonoma County Philharmonic
Saturday, November 17, 2018
7:30 PM - Santa Rosa
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Jesse Barrett, oboe
Gabriela Frank: Apu - Tone Poem for Orchestra; Ben Gutiérrez: Sketches for Oboe and Strings; Strauss: Ein Heldenleben Adults: $15; Under 18 free...
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CHORAL AND VOCAL
Sonoma Bach
Saturday, November 17, 2018
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Robert Worth, director. Live Oak Baroque Orchestra. Daniel Hutchings, tenor; Paul Murray, bass; Ch
"I Fear Namore The Night." Bach: Cantata No. 104 and Leipzig Motet (Jesu Meine Freude); Schütz: Musikalische Exequien $25 adults, $15 students...
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RECITAL
Opus Chamber Music Series
Sunday, November 18, 2018
3:00 PM - Mendocino
Matthew Miksak, bass-baritone; Carole Barnes, piano
Program: TBA Tickets are $22...
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SYMPHONY
Sonoma County Philharmonic
Sunday, November 18, 2018
2:00 PM - Santa Rosa
Norman Gamboa, conductor. Jesse Barrett, oboe
Gabriela Frank: Apu - Tone Poem for Orchestra; Stuass: Ein Heldenleben; Ben Gutiérrez: Sketches for Oboe and Strings Adults: $15; students and under 18: free...
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OPERA
Lake County Symphony Orchestra
Sunday, November 18, 2018
2:00 PM - Lakeport
Lake County Symphony and South Orchestras. John Parkinson, conductor. Heather McFadden, mezzo-sopran
Bizet: Symphony in C; opera overtures TBA; opera arias TBA $25 for general assigned seats, $30 for Premium assigned seats in Section BB; $5 discount for Lake County Symphony Association members...
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CHORAL AND VOCAL
Cantiamo Sonoma
Thursday, November 29, 2018
8:00 PM - Santa Rosa
Carol Menke, conductor
Christmas musicmof Britten, Howells, Lauridsen, Poulenc, Pärt, Sweelinck, Gaiches de Wert and Fredrik Sixten Tickets $15 - $25. Limited seating. Tickets also available at Corricks and from Cantiamo...
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CHORAL AND VOCAL
Cantiamo Sonoma
Friday, November 30, 2018
8:00 PM - Santa Rosa
Carol Menke, conductor
Christmas music of Sweelinck, Britten, Pärt, Howells, Poulenc, Lauridsen, Sixten and Gaiches de Wert Tickets are $15 - $25. Limited Seating. Tickets also can be purchased at Corricks and from Canti...
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SYMPHONY
Santa Rosa Symphony; Sonoma State University Symphonic Chorus
Saturday, December 01, 2018
7:30 PM - Rohnert Park
Jayce Ogren, conductor. Nokuthula Ngwenyama, viola; Jenny Bent, Chorus director
Vivaldi: Gloria in D Major; Berlioz: " Harold in Italy, Op. 16; Rossini: Overture to the Opera "William Tell"...
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