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Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
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 ...
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.