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Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
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...
RECITAL REVIEW
Concerts Grand / Sunday, October 24, 2010
Carolyn Steinbuck, piano

Carolyn Steinbuck Receiving Recital Applause at Mendocino College

STEINBUCK'S MASTERY DAMPENS RAINY DAY GLOOM IN LYRICAL UKIAH RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 24, 2010

Schubert’s Piano Sonatas often receive a mixed audience reaction, despite their craftsmanship, sunny tunes and drama. When all the repeats are played, and sections morph into more sections, to some they can seem wandering and overly extended. But not to seasoned musicians, as the prolongation is a heavenly length.

It was this blessed length that pianist Carolyn Steinbuck found Oct. 24 in a Mendocino College recital, the second in the Concerts Grand season. Schubert’s A Major Sonata, D. 959, constituted the entire second half and received a careful and attentive reading, the opening Allegro solemn with controlled passagework. The development section had sharp contrasts and Ms. Steinbuck played off the forte dissonances. The concluding slow set of arpeggios at the end would stand comparison with Schnabel’s famous recording from the 1930s. Praise can go no higher. The second movement, Andantino, was played at the beginning as a barcarolle and then became improvisatory and moved to a stirring climax. This movement is difficult to bring off but the pianist did it well, often with half pedal effects.

The Scherzo was played in a properly playful manner, marred only by muddy scales passages. The concluding Rondo-Allegretto is indeed lengthy with many meandering themes, and the pianist tousled with the movement but never lost sight of Schubert’s “endless songful melody.” Anton Rubinstein called the composer “eternal sunshine in music” and Ms. Steinbuck found bountiful lyricism, managing the relentless modulations well and keeping the movement’s momentum intact. The agitation of the last few bars was forcefully achieved.

The concert opened with a surprise beginning work, Poulenc’s Toccata from Trois Pièces, and the pianist’s jazzy sforzandos and rapid repeated-note passages quickly opened the ears of the 71 in the College’s Choral Room. The playing conveyed the Poulenc’s restlessness and brilliance, the tonality never quite certain.

Debussy’s three “Estampes” came next, two musical imaginings of East Asia and Spain, and the “Jardins sous la Pluie,” a French garden in the rain that under Ms. Steinbuck’s masterly fingers and feet reflected the deluge going on outside the hall. “Soirée dans Granade”, a work with a habanera rhythm, was effectively played and the tempo not rushed, lacking only crisp articulation in the right-hand passages that exemplify the potent dance rhythms and tonal “growls” in the bass. Ms. Steinbuck’s deft pedal technique and gamelan effects made “Pagodes” seem exotic and almost luminescent.

Preceding intermission Beethoven’s A-Flat Major Sonata was performed, the noble opening theme played with restraint and in uniform tempo. In the Allegro molto the right-hand figurations in the central section were never hurried. In the concluding Fuga Ms. Steinbuck underscored the counterpoint and gave a structurally cogent version of the short aria that interrupts the increasing impetuousness of the fugue subject. At the finish, a descending and ascending phrase led to a single chord, with no fermata, widely spaced in the hands and of intense emotional power. It was playing of aristocratic temperament, doing full justice to Beethoven’s exalted vision.

One encore by the artist was offered, Piazzola’s “Song of the Angel.” It was a performance without the vitality of the Schubert but offering instead the saturated tango colors and languor characteristic of the Argentine master’s genius in small forms. The audience went back into the Ukiah rain in a peaceful mood.

The reviewer is the producer for the Concerts Grand recitals