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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...
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...
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...
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...
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.