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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, November 14, 2010
Ksenia Nosikova, piano

Ksenia Nosikova in Newman Auditorium Nov. 14

DRAMATIC SCHUMANN AND LISZT WORKS HIGHLIGHT NOSIKOVA RECITAL IN NEWMAN

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2010

Another chapter in the North Bay’s homage to the Schumann bicentennial occurred Nov. 14 when Russian pianist Ksenia Nosikova played two Schumann works in a Newman Auditorium recital filled with musical rarities.

Performing on the fourth Concerts Grand series event, Ms. Nosikova (faculty artist at the University of Iowa) began not with Robert but with Clara, playing the latter’s Notturno in F Major, a lyrical and often sentimental work. The piece received a deft reading with judicious tempos, legato pedaling and tonal richness. An early romantic piece, elegantly played.

Completing the first half was a quite different Schumann composition, Robert’s F Minor Sonata, Op. 14. This sprawling work needed all of Ms. Nosikova’s artistry to connect with the audience of 75. Ms. Nosikova chose the latest edition of the Sonata, written in 1836 and called a “Concerto Without Orchestra,” that includes five movements with two Scherzos. The music is dense, featuring cascades of notes juxtaposed with simple melodies, and difficult to keep together. The pianist clearly had spent long hours making sense of the gnarled music, her memory assisted by a reduced size score resting on the piano’s tuning pins. The dramatic intensity was underscored by gobs of powerful chords, lots of volume and often a monochromatic and clangorous sound. The audience frequently seemed more benumbed than entranced, and they signified appreciation of the pianistic heavy lifting with strong but not overwhelming applause. The Schumann Second is a work that needs more than a little sorcery to be an effective recital piece, and in the extended format, even with the artist’s sterling advocacy, the impact was diluted.

Four arcane Liszt transcriptions were programmed in the second half, a brave decision by the artist but ultimately providing a less-than-successful musical experience. Unlike Liszt’s reworkings of themes from “Rigoletto,” “Tannhaüser” or “Norma,” the operas of Gounod and Meyerbeer are little known today, and lack the cohesive architecture of the paraphrases and transcriptions that the Hungarian master lavished even on an opera as rare as “Simon Boccanegra.” Gounod’s “Queen of Sheba” (1862) and “Roméo et Juliette” (1865) provided some rich melodies, but the music tended to wander through many repeats and uninspired patches. Ms. Nosikova gave each her ample technical prowess and considerable sonority, though it was by no means a note-perfect performance. There are lots of balls in the air in these virtuosic transcriptions and they attract few virtuosi.

Meyerbeer’s “Le Moine” was the most charming work of the group, the themes beautifully etched by the pianist, whose cross-hand technique and manifold skips were perfectly secure. The printed program mistakenly listed another Meyerbeer work, “Illustrations” from “L’Africaine,” as part of “Le Moine” and caused confusion with some in the audience.

No encore was offered by Ms. Nosikova, something not surprising given the long and arduous program and a reception by listeners that was at times tenuous.