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Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
Chamber
TRIO NAVARRO'S POPULAR FARE IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Long time Classical Sonoma readers may recall many Trio Navarro concert reviews that lauded their virtuosity and interest in rarely played repertoire. The April 8 concert in Schroeder Hall before 85 chamber music fans featured sterling performances but had a mostly conservative menu of popular trio...
Recital
KENNER'S ALL POLISH RECITAL HAS PADEREWSKI RARITY
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Kevin Kenner’s April 8 recital at Dominican University’s Angelico Hall had been advertised as all-Chopin, but he added a detour into another seminal Polish composer-pianist, Paderewski. Several of Mr. Kenner’s teachers were Poles, he speaks Polish, and he navigated at the piano both composers’ deman...
Symphony
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE VOICE AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 08, 2018
In an April 8 Santa Rosa Symphony concert filled to the brim with instruments--electric violin, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard samplers, harps, piano and myriad drums, gongs and bells, to say nothing of winds, brass and strings--the instrument that came out on top was the hum...
Chamber
VOM FESTIVAL TRIO CHARMS WITH CHAMBER MIX, AND HUMMEL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 31, 2018
At the core of the group of Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) musicians is an ensemble of trios and duos, and as a trio March 31 Festival founders cellist Tanya Tomkins and pianist Eric Zivian joined British violinist Monica Huggett for a chamber music concert in the Green Music Center’s Schro...
Choral and Vocal
GOOD FRIDAY REQUIEM FILLS INCARNATION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 30, 2018
Maurice Duruflé’s short and intense Requiem has been heard in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation before, but the March 30 Good Friday performance was stripped down in the number of performers, combining Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir with musical underpinning from organist Robert Youn...
Symphony
HAMELIN'S HUSKY MOOD IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Convention in piano recitals has the artist coming on stage and playing. Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin walked on Schroeder Hall’s stage March 25 and didn’t play for six minutes, chatting with the audience. A risk for some artists. Then most programs include a contemporary or rarely play...
Recital
VIRTUOSIC VARIATIONS IN MORGAN'S SCHROEDER ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Organist Robert Huw Morgan’s artistry spun through the web of early variation form in a Mar. 18 recital on Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh organ. Mr. Morgan, Stanford University’s resident organist, performs a wide range of repertoire, but as he said in comments to the audience, he loves when h...
Symphony
ORFF AND HINDEMITH SONIC SPLENDOR AT FINAL SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 17, 2018
Sonoma County Philharmonic concerts are continually artistically successful but on the Santa Rosa High School’s stage the orchestra rarely numbers above 40, and in the 900-seat hall audiences can be scant. Violinists can be in short supply. An opposite scene occurred at the March 17/18 concert set...
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.