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Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
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...
RECITAL REVIEW
Thursday Music Club / Thursday, April 15, 2010
Elenor Barcsak, Piano

Elenor Barcsak Receiving Applause April 15 in Marin

BARCSAK PLAYS A RARE CRAMER SONATA BEFORE ELEGANT CHOPIN MAZURKAS

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pianist Elenor Barcsak has consistently been in the forefront of Marin musical life as a teacher, MTA branch President, supporter of manifold causes and a chamber music player, but seldom finds time to mount a solo recital. April 15 found her accepting the soloist’s role in Terra Linda’s Christ Presbyterian Church, performing a recital of some unfamiliar music and some Chopin gems.

Sponsored by the Thursday Marin Musical Club, the concert’s first half featured unfamiliar music of Franck, Cramer and Donizetti. And music from J. B. Cramer, in this case the E-Flat sonata, Op. 30, No. 3, is also from a composer that is long forgotten. The music is effective without being memorable, lacking the rhythmic interest of similar works from Clementi and Dussek. The middle Allegretto non troppo movement, although short, was played with a joyful nature and deft cross-handed articulation.

The Cramer followed Harold Bauer’s transcription of Franck’s Prelude, Op. 18, originally one of six pieces for organ written in 1868, and the first part of a fugue and variations. It’s a shimmering if repetitive composition, nostalgic at every turn, and Ms. Barcsak never allowed the tempi to slack into sentimentality.

Donizetti’s famous “Sextette” from Lucia di Lammermoor concluded the first half, but not in the familiar virtuoso version by Liszt. Here it was just for the left hand, in a Leschetizky transcription, and was surely a premiere for North Bay audiences. It is effective, the contrapuntal lines vying with the well-known theme. However, though I kept yearning for the big sound of the Liszt work, it was good to hear this music from a fresh perspective.

Everything in the second half was eminently familiar, and mostly Chopin. Four Mazurkas (Op. 17, No. 2, Op. 7, No. 4, Op. 59, No. 2, and Op. 50, No. 3) were perhaps the most successfully played works of the afternoon, as Ms. Barcsak subtlely varied the repeats in the first Mazurka and found flourishes of chromatic harmony and a delicate change from major to minor in the Coda of the A-Flat Mazurka of Op. 59. The masterful C-Sharp Mazurka of Op. 50 was played with the contrapuntal opening and closing highlighted, and a captivating ending with a dose of suspense.

Two Etudes followed, the A-Flat Major from “Trois Nouvelles Études” a lovely journey of the left-hand accompaniment of two against three and Ms. Barcsak emphasizing the melody in the top note of the right-hand chords. In the demanding first study in C Major, Op. 10, No. 1, played without score as was the concluding Liszt work, Ms. Barcsak made the most of long lines with the damper pedal supporting a rich bass octave melody.

Tackling the formidable Liszt Second Legend, “St. Francis Walking on the Waves,” the pianist had the needed endurance for playing the broken left-hand octaves and mounted enough bravura to bring the packed church audience to its feet at the final ecstatic chords. Ms. Barcsak clearly has a penchant for Liszt and the performance was carefully planned and displayed the needed musical abandon during the long ascending phrases depicting the Saint’s triumph over earthly barriers.

Ms. Barcsak, Marin’s complete musician, mounted a recital replete with uncommon music and elegant artistry.