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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...
Recital
GLOVER'S ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHT'S CINNABAR RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Daniel Glover is arguably the busiest virtuoso pianist in the San Francisco Bay area, but rarely is heard in North Bay concerts. So 90 local pianophiles were anxious to hear him Feb. 17 in Petaluma’s charming small Cinnabar Theater, and they were rewarded with an eclectic program of sometimes unfam...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Oakmont Concert Series / Thursday, September 10, 2009
OLGA VINOKUR, CONCERT PIANIST

Pianist Olga Vinokur

VINOKUR SHINES IN ALL-RUSSIAN PROGRAM AT OAKMONT

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, September 10, 2009

Planning and performing an All-Russian program is not a hard task as long as a solo pianist is the executant. The Slavic keyboard literature, even excluding the 19th Century, is vast, and Russian expatriate Olga Vinokur dipped into the works of five notable Russians in her Sept. 10 Oakmont Concert Series recital. Ms. Vinokur, a New York resident by way of early years in Russia and studies in Israel, gave a committed but largely low-key concert for 200 attendees in Berger Auditorium.

Beginning with Shostakovich’s first numbered composition, the 3 Fantastic Dances from 1922, Ms. Vinokur established a pattern that would continue throughout the recital – earnest attention to detail, carefully balanced voicing between the hands and a deft pianissimo touch. The Dances were forgettable curiosities and an odd selection, considering the greatness of the composer’s Op. 87 Preludes and Fugues, but there was fleeting charm for all, and in the second piece the pesky right-hand skips were effortlessly played.

Ten Scriabin Preludes came next, mostly from the Op. 11 set (of 24), but introduced by the haunting Prelude in C-Sharp Minor (for the left hand) from Op. 9. In all these the specter of Chopin looms large, and Ms. Vinokur was content to underplay, looking for subtle contrast and avoiding a big sound. Repose in these works is welcome, but more rhythmic flexibility was needed in the wistful A Minor and dreamy D Major preludes. Ms. Vinokur played the entire set well, but at times the phrasing was predictable, removed from the masterful Scriabin of Sofronitzky and Shura Cherkassky. Two Scriabin studies followed, the Op. 2, No. 1, the most memorable of the pair, and long a Horowitz favorite. Perhaps Scriabin’s most popular work, the D-Sharp Minor Etude from Op. 8 (in the original version) received a routine performance missing the demonic force that caused dancer Isadora Duncan to say that the Etude was the “agony of the Russian people.”

Medtner wrote three volumes of Forgotten Melodies, and the pianist played just one, a Canzona Matinata from Op. 39. The runs were half-pedaled, the nostalgia of the work carefully unfolding. Medtner never gets enough performances, and this one had a simple enchantment.

The first half ended with Prokofiev’s short Third Sonata, Op. 28, a work last played in Oakmont by pianist Gila Goldstein. Here Ms. Vinokur struggled a bit technically, her beguiling soft playing unable to offset the lack of the requisite left-hand fortes and the intrusion of several quick memory lapses. The bravura and rhythmic drive were present, but not quite in the amount needed to carry the piece.

The second part was all Rachmaninoff, comprising the Six Moments Musicaux, Op. 16, and a transcription of Kreisler’s violin bagatelle Liebeslied. The Op. 16 works are early, from 1896, and are brilliantly written salon works in a late-Romantic style. For me they lack the interest and compact textures of the more famous Op. 23 Preludes, and under Ms. Vinokur’s fingers made a mixed impression. In some, especially in the rhetorical B-Flat Minor and the barcarolle-like D-Flat Major, she caught the ruminating character of the works, too similar to Scriabin, and her legato scales shimmered. In pieces that had vast swirls of notes, as the composer often writes, the playing became muddy, and in the second piece she was briefly lost. It’s easy to do that with so much florid pianistic decoration. The rhythmic patterns of the final C Major “Moment” were brought out well, presaging the same model for the later B-Flat Prelude of Op. 23.

The Liebeslied, the first of a pair of reworkings from the composer’s colleague Fritz Kreisler, was played with charm and rhythmic vitality, if not the last ounce of virtuosity.

One encore was offered, a Scarlatti sonata, performed with fleet panache. It was worlds removed from the sonorous harmonies from the Russians composers.