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Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
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.