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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...
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...
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.