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Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
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...
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.