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SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 08, 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...
Choral and Vocal
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...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Feb. 9 performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the 1820s—emp...
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed...
RECITAL REVIEW
Concerts Grand / Sunday, November 08, 2009
Elena Casanova, Pianist. The recital is produced by Pacific Union College's Music Department and Concerts Grand. Ms. Casanova is a PUC alumna. Assisting artist for the Gershwin is PUC Professor Lynn Wheeler

Lynn Wheeler and Elena Casanova on the Paulin Hall stage Nov. 8

CASANOVA SPARKLES IN ANGWIN LATIN MUSIC RECITAL

by Mendo Cinco
Sunday, November 08, 2009

Presenting an entire program of classical Latin music might seem a risky venture, but pianist Elena Casanova is known for performing in multiple musical genres, and perhaps taking a chance or two along the way. Her Nov. 8 recital In Angwin’s Paulin Hall proved to be markedly unconventional. Produced by Pacific Union College’s Music Department in collaboration with Concerts Grand, the event drew an enthusiastic crowd of 125, a mix of PUC students and faculty, north Napa Valley music fans and a sizable contingent from Ukiah, Ms. Casanova’s home town. As a PUC alumna, the artist was indeed the prodigal returning home.

Beginning with Lecuona and Gottschalk’s "Souvenir de Puerto Rico," Ms. Casanova caught the sparkling rhythms inherent in this characteristic Latin music, the charm of her native Cuba in the forefront. Yalil Guerra’s more recent "Seducción" (1994) was both languorously attractive and, in the middle section, provocative. Maria Matilde Alea’s "Miniaturas Ritmicas Cubanas No. 2," a children’s piece composed by Ms. Casanova’s teacher in Cuba, was warmly received.

In her 2008 Ukiah recital, Ms. Casanova ended with Ginastera’s "Danzas Argentinas," Op. 2, and here she closed the first half with this popular work from 1937. Playing from score, as she did during most of the recital, the pianist provided plenty of polytonal interest in the opening "Danza del Viejo boyero" and the "Danza de la moza donosa’s" undulating meter was played in a warmly beguiling manner. Notwithstanding a pesky memory lapse in the finale, the pianist’s energetic and full-throttle approach carried the "Danza del Gaucho matrero" to a wild finish, an upward glissando capping left-hand dissonances and colorful flourishes.

Three composers unknown to this reviewer were featured to begin the second half: Jose L. Fernando de Coca, Enrique Guerro and Manuel Samuell. Ms. Casanova’s playing of these neglected Cuban composers was exemplary, the Samuell piece ("El Pañuelo de Pepa, recuerdos de Gottschalk") being the most intriguing and bringing back the Creole flavor of Gottschalk’s Caribbean pieces.

Three popular composers concluded the concert, the first two (Piazzola and René Touzet) specialists in tangos and pachangas, native to Argentina and Cuba. Both were played with effervescent colors, particularly Touzet’s "Dancita No. 3."

College faculty pianist and Department Chair Lynn Wheeler joined Ms. Casanova to close the program with the two-piano version of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” The opening trill and ascending scale, originally for a dapper clarinet, was played "primo" by Ms. Casanova, enticingly setting the 16-minute work alight. Prof. Wheeler, one of Ms. Casanova’s esteemed teachers, was every bit as effective in his sharp melodic interchanges. It was a performance that leaned more to the jazz idiom than the classical influence, the solo sections richly rhythmic and at times orchestral in scope. The pianists were not always together during the ensemble parts, but no matter, as the score from 1924 was effectively realized, piquant and quite boisterous.

Remaining on stage when an encore was demanded, Prof. Wheeler displayed glowing arpeggios that met Ms. Casanova’s liquid legato in a Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Roe two-piano transcription of Saint-Saens’ “The Swan.” A more relaxed work and deft performance after the unrestrained Gershwin could not be imagined.