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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
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.