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Chamber
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 08, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
Choral and Vocal
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
Chamber
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
Chamber
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
Chamber
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Feb. 9 performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the 1820s—emp...
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
Symphony
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
Opera
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Oakmont Concert Series / Thursday, March 11, 2010
Angela Lee, cello
Lydia Artymiw, piano

Angela Lee and Lydia Artymiw Playing Chopin's Cello Sonata

CELLO PIANO DUO HIGHLIGHT OAKMONT'S 20 YEARS

by Joel Cohen
Thursday, March 11, 2010

Celebrating a distinguished history in a 20th anniversary recital, the Oakmont Concert Series March 11 featured an intriguing and largely successful recital by cellist Angela Lee and pianist Lydia Artymiw.

The afternoon’s first composition was Prokofiev’s Cello Sonata, Op. 119. This is a grand work, full of exaggerated gestures and ironic juxtapositions. To be effective, the contrasts between the lush, romantic writing and circus-like ironic pantomime must be stark and surprising. Ms. Lee was unfortunately overpowered by both the piano and the hall, Berger Auditorium, which is not ideal for string instruments and has little reverberation. Ms Artymiw’s playing was precise and energetic, but often tended to dominate when it should have been more of collaboration with the cello. Given the acoustic problems with the venue, Ms. Lee could have afforded to be much more energetic and exaggerated in her musical gestures. This left the overall impression of the piece as somewhat polite rather than dynamic, which the Sonata (and Prokofiev in general) demands. But there was lyricism juxtaposed with a gently humorous setting, the narrative frequently witty. Acoustics aside, the performance would have been helped by greater instrumental range, both tonal and emotional.

The Prokofiev was followed by Ms Artymiw performing four pieces for solo piano by Ukrainian composers Mykola Kolessa, Vasyl Barvinsky and Mykola Lysenko. She showed a strong affinity for these, both in her verbal introductions and in her playing. Each was quite short, piquant harmonically and demonstrating command of rhythmic variation.

The performers ended the first half with a set of four short pieces by Sibelius, Op. 78, originally written for violin and piano. Ms Lee seemed to be more in her element here, without the demanding character acting which is necessary to play the Prokofiev successfully. They were lovely little vignettes, meandering to no place in particular. The third one, Religioso, written for Sibelius’ ailing brother, seemed the most emotional and directed of the set, both in composition and performance. But it is risky for a cellist to play pieces that begin piano, in an undertone. Given the sonic difficulties with the hall, it would help Ms. Lee to develop the cellist equivalent of a stage whisper, where the character would remain piano but the volume would increase several notches. As it was, it seemed lovely in the distance, but barely audible.

After intermission the duo performed the big Grieg A Minor Cello Sonata, Op. 36. This is an odd work, often mimicking his highly successful piano concerto written 15 years earlier. There are many lovely sections but the work seems scattered and diffuse, as if the composer had many good ideas for a cello sonata, but then just used them all one after another. The performers enjoyed the 27-minute romantic work, taking turns playing the legato lines and Norwegian folk material with rich colors. The piano again is prominent but Ms. Lee’s cello was rhythmically incisive.

There was no encore for the audience of 220, but there was an additional performance. Since it was a celebratory day, the Oakmont Concert Series impresario Robert Hayden received plaudits from many area residents, and then hosted a sumptuous reception with his author wife Alla Crone in their hillside home. Here the day's two musicians returned to their instruments, Ms. Artymiw playing Mr. Hayden’s new Brodmann piano, and offered the assemblage a memorable Largo from Chopin’s Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 65. It was sonorously spiritual reading, Ms. Lee's playing radiant, and a fitting gift for Mr. Hayden (and his artistic associate Rosemary Waller) for producing two decades of classical music concerts.