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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...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
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