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Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
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.