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Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
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 ...
RECITAL REVIEW

Lydia Artymiw Playing György Kurtag in Newman March 7

SHORT PIECES WITH A LONG REACH

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 07, 2010

It’s seldom that the high points of a piano recital are contained in repertoire that is short, dissonant, unfamiliar and mostly loud. At Lydia Artymiw’s March 7 recital for Concerts Grand in SRJC’s Newman Auditorium, the music of Kurtag and Messiaen had for this reviewer emotional impact far beyond their succinct duration and novel rhythms

Before a small audience of 63, Ms. Artymiw preceded the performance of three of Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus with a cogent analysis of Regard de l’Etoile (Gaze of the Star), Regard de la Vierge (Gaze of the Virgin) and Premiere Communion de la Vierge (First Communion of the Virgin). The commentary was minus any puffery and crisply connected the composer’s beliefs as a Catholic mystic with his infatuation with bird call motifs in music. The actual playing was vivid and intense in its story telling. For some the expressive use of rubato may have distracted from the numerological aspects, especially in the Regard de la Vierge, but everywhere the angular motives and contrasting lines were played consummate clarity. Was this first performance of any major Messiaen piano work in the local area?

Hungarian composer György Kurtag began in 1973 his “Játékok (“Games”) as a counterpart to his countryman Bartok’s “Mikrokosmos,” and is still composing additions at age 84. Ms. Artymiw chose seven segments, some lasting only 20 seconds, and each was full of avant garde technical explorations and intriguing silences. In their unique way they are a delight to the ear, cleansing any resemblance to the anniversary year of Chopin and Schumann. The Helyettem kis virag (Lovely greetings to Grete Spinnrad) was particularly alluring.

But it was with Schumann that the recital ended, his Fantasiestücke, Op. 12, receiving a fanciful reading with convincing rhythmic vigor throughout. Ms. Artymiw often stretched the breaks between phrases a bit too long, but the conceptions were thoroughly planned and played with a masterful touch and tone. The opening Des Abends was a sensual night song, the In der Nacht had multiple layers of melodic beauty in one hand, and in Traumes Wirren Ms. Artymiw's right-hand rotation technique was flawless. It wasn’t Schumann for the conventional taste.

In the same vein, Mozart’s B-Flat Major Sonata, K. 333, the recital’s opening work, was performed with stylistic authority and Ms. Artymiw’s handling of the bold harmonies in the Allegro. Her right-hand passage work was pellucid, and the cadenza in the concluding Allegretto grazioso (yes, a cadenza in a piano sonata) had just the right voicing leading to its inception. Mr. Artymiw is not afraid of making Mozart muscular, and is never in a hurry to make her artistic points.

There was one encore, Mendelssohn’s Venetian Boat Song No. 2, Op. 30, No. 6. Here there was close attention paid to subtle changes in volume, and the right-hand trills in E Sharp and C Sharp positively shimmered. The final descent to the piannissimo F Sharp was played with a hint of mystery.

The reviewer is the producer of Concerts Grand, and Marin pianist Ken Iisaka contributed to the commentary.