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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 ...
Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
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