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Thursday, April 25, 2019
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 Recent Reviews
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 (...
CHAMBER
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
CHAMBER
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
RECITAL
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
CHAMBER
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Local Concerts  
RECITAL REVIEW
Music at Oakmont / Thursday, April 11, 2019
George Li, piano

Pianist George Li

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 that now is establishing an important international career at the age of 24. A Wunderkind is now a splendid recitalist.

His program was conventional and in many ways his interpretations of Beethoven and Liszt were conformist, albeit at a virtuoso level of technique and insight. Beethoven’s Andante Favori and the C Major “Waldstein” Sonata comprised the first half before 200, the largest recent audience in Berger Auditorium. The Andante (WoO 57) was played with just the right tempo with sprightly small ornaments that moved around the principal note and often a staccato touch. Phrases were shaped with care. A finished performance.

Impeccable scale technic was a prime part of Mr. Li’s Beethoven Sonata, and throughout the performance his exemplary pianistic prowess was on full display. The command of seamless changes in volume and rhythm characterized the opening allegro, with scant attention paid to ritards or the humor in the writing. Haydn is often noted as the humorist in classical period music, but Beethoven is also a master of comedy in his scores, an approach foreign to Mr. Li’s conception, at least in this afternoon’s reading.

The slow adagio molto was spiritually shaped with a whiff of mystery, and calmly lead into the concluding Rondo. Marked allegretto moderato, standard interpretations of this magical movement are played in a dreamy style, and Mr. Li did so effortlessly with expert pedaling but no pedal point or inner voices. Scale playing was again faultless and he chose to play the famous octave passages in both hands as scales rather than employing glissandos. The bright top register of the hall’s piano was ideal for the “Waldstein” interpretation.

Two Liszt works, the Sonetto Del Petrarca No. 104 the Les Jeux d’eaux a la Villa d’Este (from Années de Pèlerinage, Vol. 3), began the second half and were highlights of the afternoon. Here the pianist’s repeated note mastery, fast trills and novel soft sforzandos produced a shimmering sense of water inspired by the Tivoli Villa near Rome, and perfection in running thirds and subtle dynamic control came in the Sonetto. The decrescendo in the last few bars of the Sonetto was captivating and masterfully phrased. Rich tonal color was also heard in each of these pieces.

Reminiscences of Don Juan, from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, closed the formal program in a blaze of virtuosity. Mr. Li’s technical arsenal seems to have everything, and everything is needed in this 16-minute pianistic tour de force - speedy octaves, skips, detaché touch, brilliant repeated chords, fluent thematic statements and clarity at places of exceptional difficulty. However, for this extravagant music Mr. Li lacked a critical item of technic – instrumental volume and sonority.

Orchestral sonority in piano playing is not a factor of the pianist’s physical size, and many powerhouses in the past (Rosenthal, Anton Rubinstein, Hofmann, Horowitz) were below average in height. The sound needed for a great performance of Liszt’s Don Juan is produced by a mix of arm and shoulder strength, speed of key descent and adroit pedaling. Mr. Lee’s interpretation, however admirable, could not generate the needed musical force and demonic punch. Musical histrionics demand tumult.

Of course the playing brought down the house, and the artist returned to the stage and played a melting and mournful Intermezzo from Brahms’ Op. 118, No. 6. Another encore was demanded and he launched into the virtuoso showpiece of Liszt’s third study (La Campanella) from the set of Paganini Etudes from 1851. His dazzling command of upper register repeated notes never failed him.

Events Calendar

RECITAL
Green Music Center
Friday, April 26, 2019
7:30 PM - Rohnert Park
Gil Shaham, violin; Akira Eguchi, piano
Kreisler: Preludium and Allegro; Wheeler: The Singing Turk (Sonata No. 2); Franck: A Major Sonata; Bach: Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006; Avner Norman: Nigunim (Sonata No. 3...
Details

SYMPHONY
Sonoma State University Symphony Orchestra
Saturday, April 27, 2019
7:30 PM - Rohnert Park
Alexander Kahn, conductor. Brynn Dally, cello
Liszt: Les Préludes; St. Saëns: Concerto in A Minor (No. 1) for cello; Franck: Symphony in D Minor Admission: $8...
Details

SYMPHONY
Marin Symphony
Saturday, April 27, 2019
8:00 PM - San Rafael
Alasdair Neale, conductor. Oliver Herbert, cello
Elgar: Cello Concerto; Mozart: Overture to the Opera "The Magic Flute"; Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E -Flat Major, Op. 55 ("Eroica")...
Details

CHORAL AND VOCAL
Vallejo Choral Society
Saturday, April 27, 2019
9:00 AM - Benicia
Eric Choate presents a master class in Dvořák’s Mass in D major
Vallejo Choral Society presents its Spring Vocal Workshop Saturday, April 27, from 9 to 12, at the historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Benicia. Renowned conductor, director, and composer ...
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SYMPHONY
Marin Symphony
Sunday, April 28, 2019
3:00 PM - San Rafael
Alasdair Neale, conductor. Oliver Herbert, cello
Elgar: Cello Concerto; Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 55 ("Eroica"); Mozart: Overture to the Opera "The Magic Flute"...
Details

CHAMBER
San Francisco State University Dept. of Music
Sunday, April 28, 2019
2:00 PM - San Francisco
Jassen Todorov, violin; William Corbett-Jones, piano
Bach: E Major Sonata (No. 3), BWV 1016; Mozart: B-Flat Major Sonata, K. 454; Schubert: C Major Fantasy, D. 934 (Op. Post. 159); Other works TBA...
Details

CHORAL AND VOCAL
Sonoma Bach
Sunday, April 28, 2019
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Circa 1600 choir, Robert Worth, conductor. David Parsons, organ

Leonhard Lechner: Deutsche Sprüche von Leben und Tod (1606); Hugo Distler: Totentanz (c. 1935); J.H. Schein: Fontana d’Israel (1623); Bach with Johann Michael Bach: Organ Meditations from Yale Univer...
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SYMPHONY
Santa Rosa Symphony
Saturday, May 04, 2019
7:30 PM - Rohnert Park
Bruno Ferrandis, conductor. Olga Kern, piano
Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102; Stravinsky: Scherzo Fantastique, Op. 3; Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64...
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SYMPHONY
Santa Rosa Symphony
Sunday, May 05, 2019
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Bruno Ferrandis, conductor. Olga Kern, piano
Stravinsky: Scherzo Fantastique, Op. 4; Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64; Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102...
Details

RECITAL
Redwood Empire AGO
Sunday, May 05, 2019
3:00 PM - Santa Rosa
Robert Young, Sylvia O'Neill, Sally Fletcher, John Partridge, David Hatt and Paul Blanchard, organ.
Sowerby: Prelude on "Charterhouse"; David N. Johnson: Fugue a a Gigue; piano and organ duet TBA, other works TBA A potluck reception follows the REAGO concert...
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