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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
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