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Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Roy Malan, Violin
Kumaran Arul, Piano

Violinist Roy Malan and Pianist Kumaran Arul at Mendocino's Preston Hall

MALAN AND ARUL TAME GRIEG AT THE MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Now in its 23rd season, the Mendocino Music Festival has a reputation for combining innovative crossover programming with the delights of summer on the North Coast – ocean breezes, warm morning fog, Victorian village flower gardens and memorable cuisine. For Roy Malan’s violin recital of July 15, the program was a little novel and a little conventional, but the artistry was first cabin.

Joined at the piano by Stanford University faculty member Kumaran Arul, Mr. Malan’s usual effervescent pre-performance remarks were in evidence as he introduced Mr. Arul as a passionate collector of recordings of the “golden era” of the piano, and discussed the classic 1928 recording of the afternoon’s big work, Grieg’s C Minor Sonata, by none other than Kreisler and Rachmaninoff. Kreisler and Mr. Malan are violinists separated not only by a generation or two, but by their sound. The former’s tone is as wide as the great bay in front of Mendocino, the latter’s style is more constrained and the sound focused but not rich in partials or the broad phrasing that Kreisler derived from his Vienna training under Massart. What Mr. Malan brings to a recital is the art of a consummate professional, playing a wider range of music than any violinist known to me, and reflecting his own famous teachers: Galamian, Gingold and Zimbalist.

Before a jammed Preston Hall audience the program began with a curiosity, Zimbalist’s Sonata In G Minor, Written in 1926 and revised in 1968, Mr. Malan recorded the work years ago (with Robin Sutherland) and with Mr. Arul gave a compelling reading. The opening adagio sostenuto starts tentatively, the fiddle displaying no vibrato, and evolves into a lyrical theme reminiscent of John Powell’s Op. 7 Violin Sonata. Powell was an American composer with whom Zimbalist toured as early as 1913. It’s a long movement, quite Gallic in character without attaching to any individual French composer, and Mr. Malan underscored the theatrical nature of the themes, often in the top register ever so close to the bridge. After some uncharacteristic false notes, Mr. Arul settled down to wholly artistic support in a piece that must have been quite new to him. The second movement, a plaintive and languorous dance, was short and juxtaposed questioning phrases from the violin, answered by the piano. A lovely interchange indeed.

The allegro vivo finale was an animated and often jazzy ride, at one time finding Mr. Malan holding a note solidly for 15 seconds over the syncopated piano line. There are allusions to Rachmaninoff harmonies here, again often in higher registers, and Mr. Malan played it very well.

Dvorak’s Sonatina in G Major, Op. 100, closed the first half, and from the first notes it was unmistakably from the Czech composer’s American period, almost as familiar as the String Quartet in F. The four-movement work is really a set of dances: the rustic with pianissimo ending, a Negro spiritual folk song ending again lightly in a captivating descending phrase; an upbeat “square dance” Scherzo; and a whirling finale full of deceptive cadences and “Virginia Reel” rhythmic excitement.

The intermission brought a respite for the perspiring audience, buoyed by sea breezes from the hall’s open windows (they were closed at the concert’s beginning to prevent the violin from going out of tune), and the second half contained only the Op. 45 Grieg. Here the specter of Kreisler again appeared, Mr. Malan’s tonal approach gaining heft in the tumultuous opening Allegro molto. At times the piano sound overpowered the violin, and perhaps Grieg, a virtuoso pianist, would not have been at all bothered. Some of Mr. Malan’s finest playing occurred in the second movement, the balances restored and his trill slow and amazingly even. There is an ascending phrase at the end which leads up to an E natural, two octaves above the open string E, played sometimes as a harmonic which means vibrato is not heard on the note. Some violinists play it not as a harmonic but fully stopped and with vibrato, which is what I heard. Mr. Malan nailed every note, the last one deftly sailing off over the massive white Festival tent a half mile distant.

Grieg’s finale is again boisterous, and was played that way with echoes from the first movement’s themes. Mr. Arul’s energetic octaves occasionally imposed on the violin line but to no great disadvantage, both musicians bent on conveying the work’s drama and fire. Mr. Malan’s spiccato bow was vigorously dancing near the end, a joyous homage to a lyrical and demanding masterpiece. Though the applause was long and loud, the audience asked for no encore. A curious omission, as I suspect Kreisler’s delectable “Schön Rosmarin” or “Liebesfreud” were at the ready.

Roy Malan has become the North Coast’s most popular violinist, playing in several orchestras, the Trio Navarro and with many chamber ensembles, and here teamed with the formidable Mr. Arul provided the high artistry synonymous with the resplendent Mendocino Festival.

Violinist Dan Greenhouse contributed to this review.