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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...
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...
Symphony
PEACE AND LOVE FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Before the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 4 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” Symphony CEO Alan Silow took a moment to acknowledge the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and to observe that music offers a more peaceful and loving view of the world. Mr. ...
RECITAL REVIEW
Concerts Grand / Sunday, October 31, 2010
Jassen Todorov, violin
William Corbett-Jones, piano

Jassen Todorov and William Corbett-Jones In Newman Auditorium Oct. 31

TODOROV AND CORBETT-JONES PERFORM DRAMATIC THREE-SONATA RECITAL IN NEWMAN

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 31, 2010

After a long dry spell Sonoma County seems to be seeing a flood tide of fine violin playing. David McCarroll, Roy Malan, Michael Ludwig and Vadim Gluzman have played recent concerts, and San Francisco State University Professors Jassen Todorov and William Corbett-Jones continued the trend in a dramatic recital Oct. 31 in SRJC’s Newman Auditorium for the Concerts Grand series.

Before an audience of 112, sprinkled with string players, Tartini’s G Minor Sonata (Devil’s Trill) launched the program. It’s a walk in the park for the piano part but technically demanding for the violin. Mr. Todorov handled the long cadenza, penned by Fritz Kreisler, with aplomb and plenty of trills of varying speeds and intensity. The Andante was especially effective, its repose needed from the restless nature of the work. There isn’t much for the piano to do here but Mr. Corbett-Jones, a long-time favorite for audiences in Santa Rosa, ably contributed the continuo line.

Things changed with Respighi’s brawny Sonata in B Minor, rarely heard and a composition that was received with anticipation by many, as only the Heifetz-Bay recording from 1950 has gained any notice, at least compared with contemporary sonatas by Strauss, Busoni, St. Saens and Elgar. Composed in 1917 and reflecting the carnage of World War I, the Sonata is a dark odyssey, bright at times but ultimately a sad travail with vocal lines in high string registers and rumbling tremolos and rapid left-hand passages for the pianist. Mr. Todorov was up to the demands of the writing, taking judicious tempos in each of the three movements, his not large but fully penetrating tone carrying throughout Newman’s less-than-reverberant acoustics. The lovely Andante Espressivo was played in the Romantic vein but also impressionistically, the violinist deftly phrasing the music and mirroring the piano line. In the concluding Passacaglia the performers had difficulty staying together, the necessary momentum slipping away before Mr. Corbett-Jones’ descending double octaves brought the Sonata to a rousing end. Mr. Todorov, with a powerful F Sharp-D-B passage, graciously gave the last sound to his partner. It was a performance that wasn’t ready for a microphone but still elicited a standing ovation and the assembly knowing it had heard a trenchant violin work of prismatic passion.

Order was restored after intermission with the famous Beethoven A Major Sonata, Op. 47 (Kreutzer), a performance that found both musicians on familiar ground. This is a Sonata played by every virtuoso violinist, the two propulsive outer movements framing a quiet Andante con variazoni in the placid key of F Major. The duo had plenty of frenzied competition in the opening Adagio Sostenuto – Presto, Mr. Todorov’s bow often slashing in figurations and digging deep into the stormy sections.

The finale was performed in a more playful and generous mode, the accents telling and sharply opposed to the heroic nature of the first movement. In summary, this is a radical work, written in 1803 with the Eroica Symphony, and Messrs. Todorov and Corbett-Jones made the most of the Sonata’s architecture, underscoring the rhetoric without opting for a reading that would fill a larger hall.

Two encores were offered, the second a "perpetuum mobile" performance of François Schubert’s (1808 - 1878) innocuous “L’Abielle” (The Bee), redolent with Mr. Todorov’s speedy left-hand slurred crossings. However, it was the first encore, Tchaikowsky’s melancholy “Melody in E” from the Brailovo Suite, that generated rapt silence in the hall. It was Oistrakh’s encore in his American debut recital, and here as in 1955 there were not many dry eyes in the house.

The reviewer is the producer of the Concerts Grand series