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Saturday, April 29, 2017
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 Recent Reviews
SYMPHONY
HULKING MAHLER "TITAN" AT SO CO PHIL'S SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 08, 2017
A composer’s first symphony rarely gives a clear indication of what beautiful complexities will follow over the years. Early Mozart and Tchaikovsky are examples, and the big exceptions to this axiom are the “firsts” of Beethoven, Shostakovich and Mahler. Tackling Mahler ‘s D Major Symphony (No. 1,...
SYMPHONY
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY STAYS CLOSE TO HOME
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Santa Rosa Symphony concerts usually feature high-powered soloists imported from afar, but for their recent “Bring on the Strings” concert set, they stuck close to home, thrusting their principal violin, viola and cello into the limelight. The violinist (Joseph Edelberg) and the violist (Elizabeth P...
RECITAL
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
SYMPHONY
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
RECITAL
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
RECITAL
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
CHAMBER
CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIRÓ IN WEILL
by Sonia Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Sunday, March 05, 2017
A March 5 Weill hall audience of 350 leaned in to share an intimate musical space and to hear the Miró String Quartet’s sterling concert. Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Miró plays with the feat of being four dist...
RECITAL
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
CHAMBER
MUSIC AND ART MELD IN ZUCKERMAN TRIO CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Friday, February 24, 2017
A Feb. 24 Weill Hall concert by the Pinchas Zuckerman Trio juxtaposed formidable music making with palpable associations about visual art. Brahms’ C Minor "Sonatensatz” (Scherzo) is a short youthful work for violin and piano, and was an opening call to action. Lively and vigorous playing alternated...
CHAMBER
THREE BEETHOVEN TRIOS BEGUILE AUDIENCE IN FEB. 19 WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Chamber music concerts featuring one composer can be tricky, but the Han/Setzer/Finckel trio made a Feb. 19 Weill Hall audience of 500 hear and to a degree see the boundless creativity of Beethoven. The G Major Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, opened the afternoon’s Beethoven odyssey and one wonders why it is t...
Local Concerts  
RECITAL REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Friday, April 21, 2017
Yefim Bronfman, piano

Pianist Yefim Bronfman in Weill April 21

SCHUMANN AND BARTOK HIGHLIGHT BRONFMAN RECITAL IN WEILL

by Lee Ormasa
Friday, April 21, 2017

Those people once addicted to the “Angry Birds” game application likely suffered an auditory flashback during the opening measures of the allegro from Bartok’s Suite, Op. 14, the opening work in Yefim Bronfman’s April 21 recital at Weill Hall. The repetitive opening figures of the Bartok were evocative of the game app’s hypnotic music loop. The Suite, originally conceived by Bartok as a five movement piece, was shortened by the composer to four movements, as Bartok had written an andante which was dropped and later published separately.

Bartok described how he was attempting to move away from the post-Romantic style in writing this piece:

"It is based entirely on original themes of my own invention. When this work was composed I had in mind the refining of piano technique, the changing of piano technique, into a more transparent style. A style more of bone and muscle opposing the heavy chordal style of the late, latter romantic period, that is, unessential ornaments like broken chords and other figures are omitted and it is more a simpler style."

Mr. Bronfman, no stranger to Bartok, having recorded all three of the Bartok piano concerti, showed his command of this early 20th Century piece. The arc of the composition was revealed as a carefully articulated allegro that provided the foundation upon which the rest of the performance was built. With each passing movement the percussive qualities of the piano were increasingly highlighted. That said, there was no loss of lyrical expressiveness in the process - a difficult balance that Mr. Bronfman achieved to the delight of the audience. It is likely some in attendance were encouraged to further explore Bartok’s demanding piano music as a result.

Schumann’s B-Flat Major Humoreske, Op. 20” followed the Bartok with its lyrical and provocative contrasting romantic statements. About it the composer wrote to the then Clara Wieck, who he would later marry:

"All week I’ve been sitting at the piano and composing and writing and laughing and crying, all at the same time. You will find this beautifully illustrated in my Opus 20, the great Humoreske."

There is much to discover in the “Humoreske” and Mr. Bronfman revealed many nuances and surprises other pianists might have overlooked. He kept breaks between sections to an absolute minimum, perhaps in an effort to provide a connectedness or continuity not otherwise reflected in the content of the score. This approach was frustrated at one juncture by a Weill Hall audience predilection to frequently applaud between movements that the artist simply ignored and played through. Unfortunately, Mr. Bronfman’s stage composure was again tested when during the same piece someone chose to exit the Hall with loud stomping across the wooden floor. Other than a quick turn of his head to see what was making the racket the playing was uninterrupted. Luckily, neither of these distractions adversely impacted what must be described as a transcendent reading of this challenging virtuoso work.

After Intermission, the small Weill Hall audience was treated to Debussy’s impressionistic “Suite Bergamasque” from 1905, which includes the popular “Clare de Lune” (Moonlight) third movement. The Suite was inspired by the French poet Paul Verlaine’s poem of the same name. If there was a tense moment in the program, this was it. In the busier sections there were no pianistic problems to be solved, as Mr. Bronfman wove a dreamy and enveloping sound. However, in the Suite’s quieter sections it was like watching a circus high wire act with butterflies in one’s stomach. The playing in those parts seemed overly tentative as Mr. Bronfman sought ever so carefully to apply just the correct amount of pressure to the piano keys to produce the desired sonic result. It was successful and the lovely moments quietly passed.

The program concluded with Stravinsky’s adaptation for piano of pieces from his 1921 Petrouchka ballet: “Three Movements from Petrouchka”. The ballet’s characters are marionettes with the Petrouchka character being similar to Punch of the “Punch and Judy” fame. Written for pianist Arthur Rubinstein, with Stravinsky admitting the complex composition exceeded his own skills as a pianist, there are no shortage of pianistic challenges to the piece where a pianist’s technical skills are battlefield tested. At certain points that otherwise might be cacophonous moments, an overlying “shimmering” effect was magically produced by the pianist. Mr. Bronfman not only rose to the challenge but added robustness to the performance that caused the audience to jump to their feet in appreciation as they acknowledged his formidable artistry.

Schumann’s C Minor Arabeske, Opus 18, a favorite Horowitz encore selection, was a beautifully played encore here, and a delight to an enthusiastic audience.

Events Calendar

CHAMBER
Redwood Arts Council
Saturday, April 29, 2017
7:30 PM - Occidental
Hermitage Piano Trio. Ilya Kazantsev, piano; Sergey Antonov, cello; Misch Keilen, violin
Beethoven: B-Flat Major Trio, Op. 11 ("Gessenhauer"); Schubert: Notturno in E-Flat Major, D. 897; Cassadó: Major Trio; Tchaikovsky: The Seasons, Op. 37a (arr. Goedicke)...
Details

RECITAL
Green Music Center
Sunday, April 30, 2017
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Jonathan Dimmock, organ
Sweelinck: Psalm 51 "Erbarme dich mein, o Herre Gott"; Vivaldi: Concerto in C Major, BWV 594 (Arr. Bach); Bach: Fugue in G Major "Gigue Fugue", BWV 577; Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 538; "Vater ...
Details

RECITAL
Mastercard Performance Series
Friday, May 05, 2017
7:30 PM - Rohnert Park
Richard Goode, piano
Beethoven: Sonatas - Op. 10, No. 1 (C Minor); Op. 10, No. 2 (F Major); Op. 10, No. 3 (D Major); Op. 54 (F Major); Op. 101 (A Major) Tickets start at $35...
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CHORAL AND VOCAL
American Bach Soloists
Friday, May 05, 2017
8:00 PM - Belvedere
Jeffrey Thomas, Director. Mary Wilson and Nola Richardson, soprano; Meg Bragle, mezzo-soprano; Guy
Handel: La Resurrezione...
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SYMPHONY
Santa Rosa Symphony
Saturday, May 06, 2017
8:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Bruno Ferrandis, conductor. Vadim Gluzman, violin
Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 11 (The Year 1905); Khachaturian: Suite from "Masquerade"...
Details

SYMPHONY
Santa Rosa Symphony
Sunday, May 07, 2017
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Bruno Ferrandis, conductor. Vadim Gluzman, violin
Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 11 (The year 1905); Khachaturian: Suite from "Masquerade"...
Details

SYMPHONY
Santa Rosa Symphony
Monday, May 08, 2017
8:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Bruno Ferrandis, conductor. Vadim Gluzman, violin
Khachaturian: Suite from "Masquerade"; Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 11 (The Year 1905)...
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CHAMBER
Music at Oakmont
Thursday, May 11, 2017
1:30 PM - Santa Rosa
Boreal Trio. Uriel Vanchestein,clarinet; Juan-Miguel Hernandez, viola; Wonny Song, piano
Program TBA Concerts are open to Oakmont residents and their invited guests. Admission is $20 at the door...
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CHAMBER
Musicians from Valley of the Moon Music Festival
Saturday, May 13, 2017
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Ian Swensen, violin; Jodi Levitz, viola; Sadie Glass, horn; Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Zivian, piano
Brahms: Trio, Op. 40; Piano Quartet in G Minor, Op. 25; songs for mezzo-soprano, viola and piano Admission: $30...
Details

CHAMBER
Ukiah Community Concert Association
Saturday, May 13, 2017
7:30 PM - Ukiah
Alexander String Quartet. Zakarias Grafilo and Frederick Lifsitz, violin; Paul Yarbrough, viola; Sa
Mozart: B Flat Quartet, K. 589; Shostakovich: Quartet No. 7 in F-Sharp Minor, Op. 108; Walton: Quartet No. 2 in A Minor Tickets $30; $10 youth. At the door or at the Mendocino Book Company...
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