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Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Recital
PIANISTIC COMMAND IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, October 08, 2017
Nikolay Khozyainov’s Oct. 8 debut at the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall was one of those rare moments in a young artist’s career when a performance approaches perfection. From the opening notes of Beethoven’s A-Flat Major Sonata (Op. 110) through a delightful recital ending transcription, 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.