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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
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.