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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...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
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...
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.