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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

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.