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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...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
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