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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
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.