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Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising the ...
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.