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A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 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...
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...
RECITAL REVIEW
Concerts Grand / Sunday, March 28, 2010
Zeynep Ucbasaran, Pianist

Zeynep Ucbasaran Receives Applause after Liszt's Grand Paraphrase

CHOPIN SCHERZOS FEATURED IN UCBASARAN RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chopin’s bicentennial received another boost March 28 as pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran played a Newman Auditorium concert devoted mostly to the works of the great Polish master.

In the penultimate series recital in the seventh Concerts Grand season, Ms. Ucbasaran presented a program built around three of the Scherzos, with bookends of Adnan Saygun’s Aksak Studies one through five, and a Liszt paraphrase. The richly chromatic Polonaise-Fantaisie, Op. 61, from late in Chopin’s short life, was added to the mix, replacing several short works and the “Heroic” Polonaise. Scherzo is defined as a musical joke, but Chopin’s four are hardly that. Each (the popular B-Flat, No. 2, was omitted) contains virtuosic writing with cascades of notes, many repeats and lots of fortissimo.

In the first Scherzo in B Minor, Op. 20, Ms. Ucbasaran underlined the work’s restless nature, making the theme on the contrasting lyric section more pronounced. The C-Sharp Minor (No. 3) opened with the requisite presto con fuoco tempo and a lovely the chorale-like melody in D Flat. The spray of leggierissimo arpeggios were played well, if a bit repetitiously and often too quickly. The final Scherzo in E Major, Op. 54, was played with a deliberate tempo and found the pianist being taxed technically and without a big sound, though Ms. Ucbasaran gave the vocal piu lento section a languorous and nostalgic reading.

In the A Flat Polonaise-Fantaisie the music became under the artist’s fingers a small tone poem, the opening chords creating sufficient mystery to give the impression of continuous organic growth of the themes. The loose formal structure of this unique work makes it difficult to hold together, but Ms. Ucbasaran had all under control. The three sets of trills in both hands during the middle of the Polonaise were crystal clear.

Turkish composer Saygun’s Aksak sketches began the concert, music as unfamiliar to the 80 attending as it was well received. As a compatriot of the composer, Ms. Ucbasaran plays these works (from 1969) with special flair and rhythmic excitement, and has recorded them. The piquant sonorities were refreshing and the tempos were relaxed and the phrasing elegant.

At the end of Liszt’s touring career he found himself in Istanbul, and after hearing a theme from Donizetti’s brother (the composer in residence) he wrote a Grand Paraphrase de la Marche de Giuseppe Donizetti, and dedicated it to Sultan Abdul-Medjid Kahn. Surely a premiere performance in the North Bay, Ms. Ucbasaran gave the tough repeated notes and swirls of sound a fast ride. But it’s bottom-drawer Liszt, not comparable to the great operatic paraphrases of Verdi, Bellini, Wagner and Mozart. It was good to hear a novelty, but the music faded quickly after the pianist took bows to loud applause.

Two encores were offered, beginning with Chopin’s delicate triplet finger study in the Etude in F Minor, Op. 25, No. 2. The second was 20 measures from ending of the Third Scherzo, a strange abbreviation with yet more fleet and strident notes.

The reviewer is the producer of the Concerts Grand series.