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Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
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...
RECITAL REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Paul Hersh, viola and piano
Teresa Yu, piano

Piano Duo in Preston Hall July 20 (N. Wilson Photo)

DISCOVERY AND EDUCATION IN FESTIVAL DUO RECITAL

by Elizabeth MacDougall
Tuesday, July 20, 2010

San Francisco pianists Paul Hersh and Teresa Yu presented a Mendocino Music Festival program July 20 titled “Reflections and Variations.” Mr. Hersh is known at the Festival for his professorial introductions to a performance of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (Book 1) and in 2011 he will perform Book 2 in Preston Hall.

“We are going to start with something really strange, Benjamin Britten's Lachrymae for Viola and Piano, Op. 48,” Mr. Hersh announced, and he took up the bow and viola with Ms. Yu at the piano. The work based on a song of John Dowland, born in England in 1563.

The duo led a demonstration of the original Renaissance music called “If My Complaints Could Passions Move.” He proceeded through the Theme and Variations and described the various compositional techniques. “This is a piece about innuendoes. I want everybody to have a handle on what’s going on,” Hersh stated. After a particular demonstration of music he asked “Did you get it?” and the audience laughed. He played through another passage and said “The question is ‘How much of this does stick in your ear, subliminally?’ ”

After listening to the thirty minutes of lecture and demonstration on the Britten work, written in 1950, the final twelve-minute play-through of the performance was exquisite. Each transition was well understood by the audience. The Finale of the variations was peaceful, Mr. Hersh mentioning previously that he likes “to remove all vibrato [from his viola], pretend that I’m playing a sixteenth century instrument.” It was a fetching conclusion to the first half.

Five short works from Grieg’s Lyric Pieces began the second part: Arietta, Nocturne, At Your Feet, Gone, and Remembrances. These were beautiful miniatures that Mr. Hersh introduced with comments on the compositional techniques. “All of the pieces feature going down” (intervals that sound lower). He described some of the music as “moody, dry and moody”.

Completing the concert was Schubert's “Variation on an Original Theme” in A-flat Major (Op. 35, D. 813) for piano four hands. This was a piece that Hersh admitted didn’t know before October, and expressed astonishment at the vast amount of repertoire composed by Schubert. The pianist has recorded substantial amounts of four-hand music and the discovery of the Schubert was for him a delight. He commented on one variation as being in the “key of seven-flats; people didn’t like that, as it’s hard to sight read, and in the tuning of Schubert’s day it would have sounded strange.”

The four-hand performance by Ms. Yu and Mr. Hersh was admirably synchronized and the variations unfolded with thought and elegance. Both artists had the virtuosity to bring the rarely-played duo to life, and the audience was warmly appreciative.