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Recital
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...
Symphony
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Sunday, 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 ...
Symphony
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...
STRING QUINTETS, RARE AND FAMILIAR, IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, January 26, 2020
One hundred attendees in Schroeder Hall were treated Jan. 26 to a pair of stirring two-cello string quintets: Schubert’s much beloved masterpiece Quintet in C (D. 956), and Catoire’s Quintet in C minor (Op. 16), the latter mostly a forgotten work written in 1909. The performers were violinist Victo...
Chamber
MOSTLY MOZART WITH A LITTLE BEETHOVEN AND SOR IN NAPA
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 26, 2020
Sharing the stage with a local diva is a tough task for even seasoned musicians, but Napa College faculty soprano Christina Howell stole the show Jan. 26 when the Napa Valley Music Associates presented an eclectic program of mostly Mozart music. Somehow compositions of Sor and Beethoven joined the m...
Chamber
CHALLENGING WORKS IN GOULD TRIO'S MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 26, 2020
The Gould Piano Trio, founded 28 years ago by violinist Lucy Gould, has been one of the UK’s most prestigious ensembles. Its January 26 performance in Mill Valley Chamber Music Society’s series demonstrated how richly they deserve that reputation. The concert, held at the Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Chu...
Chamber
LOCAL MUSICIANS SHINE IN MTAC BENEFIT CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 25, 2020
After a fire-related postponement of four months, the Sonoma County Chapter of the Music Teachers Association of California Jan. 25 gave their annual scholarship benefit in a charming Sebastopol home. Showcasing local musicians in an intimate setting with two pianos, the first half highlights inclu...
Symphony
MOZART MASTERWORK HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 25, 2020
Excitement was palpable in the Marin Civic Center Auditorium Jan. 25 as the Marin Symphony in splendid full force took the stage for a richly textured Masterworks II program. Prevented from giving its first Masterworks offering by the wildfire-caused blackouts last October, the orchestra returned wi...
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.