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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
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.