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Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
RECITAL REVIEW

Pianist Daria Rabotkina

PIANIST RABOTKINA DEFTLY PLAYS RUSSIANS IN OAKMONT RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oakmont’s monthly Concert Series produces just a few solo piano recitals each year, and they usually feature out-of-the-ordinary repertoire and performers of international caliber. October 21’s recital presenting Daria Rabotkina was no exception to the established norm, the young Russian capably playing three big works to a Berger Auditorium of 175 with consummate ease.

The entire first half was devoted to Prokofiev’s Ten Pieces, Op. 75, taken from the ballet Romeo and Juliet. From 1937, the works are more effective separately than as a group, the melodies direct and uncomplicated. Ms. Rabotkina lavished a lot of time on each, never rushing even in the most popular of the set, Montagues and Capulets. Here the wonderful play of bass chords had a chilling effect, missing when the tempo is too fast. The pianist’s rhythmic security was matched with the many march-like passages and sharp sforzandos. This was Prokofiev playing removed from the drama of the Sonatas, though in the quieter parts (Juliet as a Young Girl and Romeo and Juliet Before Parting) the playing was sensitive and colorful.

Schumann’s popular Kinderscenen, Op. 15, followed intermission and was lovingly played without much individuality, substantially different than the Valentina Lisitsa performance February in Santa Rosa. This was chaste playing with considerable attention to detail, but mostly without inner voices or changes in texture as the 13 parts unfolded. Ms. Rabotkina has a firm control of pace and excellent chordal balancing, the Träumerei and Kind im Einschlummern parts almost soporific in their languorous tempos.

The big work on the program was Rachmaninoff’s B Flat Sonata, in the 1931 version, and it was given a curiously underplayed reading. Curious in the sense that this work, exceptionally popular in competitions for the past 20 years, is almost always a volcano of fortissimo chords, large dynamic contrasts and bring-down-the-house virtuosity. Mr. Rabotkina’s approach, perhaps in conjunction with the instrument’s sound and the hall’s muddied acoustics, was never strident and looked for inner continuity rather than the last once of sonic power. For example, the big chord bass chord just prior to the cascade of notes in the third-movement coda didn’t come with an aural crash, a unique touch for this reporter. This was not note perfect playing but a performance that had emotional intensity without being relentless.

The lovely Rachmaninoff Vocalise from the songs of Op. 34, and composed in 1912, concluded the program in a nostalgic mood, the rich harmonies and subtle pianistic rubato savored by the attentive crowd. The arranger for this solo piano version was unidentified.

One encore was given, a rollicking performance of Chopin’s Opus Posthumous Waltz in E Minor.