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Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
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