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Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Recital
GLOVER'S ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHT'S CINNABAR RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Daniel Glover is arguably the busiest virtuoso pianist in the San Francisco Bay area, but rarely is heard in North Bay concerts. So 90 local pianophiles were anxious to hear him Feb. 17 in Petaluma’s charming small Cinnabar Theater, and they were rewarded with an eclectic program of sometimes unfam...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
CHAMBER REVIEW
The Thursday Musical Club / Thursday, November 18, 2010
Kenn Gartner, piano

Kenn Gartner Speaks of Composer Robert Palmer Nov. 18 in Tiburon

GARTNER'S ECLECTIC PIANISM FEATURED IN TIBURON RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kenn Gartner is Marin’s eclectic pianist, and his playing Nov. 18 during a short recital in Tiburon’s Community Congregational Church underscored his inquisitive musical and intellectual nature.

Sponsored by the decades-old Thursday Musical Club, the concert featured mostly familiar music of Bach, Haydn, Liszt and Chopin, but with many unconventional touches. Mr. Gartner performed most of these pieces March 21 in a recital for Concerts Grand at San Rafael’s J-B Piano Store, but in the charming hilltop church setting his playing was more secure, expansive and engaging.

Haydn’s E Minor Sonata, Hob. XVI, began the recital in an aggressive style but with surprisingly little pedal. This approach helped clarity throughout the Sonata, as the room’s acoustics were hampered throughout by muffled sound above a mezzo forte. The Adagio was characterized by arching lines in the right hand, even trills and precise block chords. The vivace molto finale again was lightly pedaled but lacked sonic differentiation and subtlety of phrase.

Mr. Gartner seemed to be aiming at harpsichord effects in Bach’s popular Concerto in the Italian Style (S. 971), a three-movement work that demands artistic individuality. The pianist provided same with small appoggiaturas, expressive arpeggios and inner voices in the left hand. He arpeggiated the last chords in the first and final movements, a welcome romantic touch, and held the middle movement penultimate chord pianissimo before deftly resolving into the single note in g. Lovely indeed.

Liszt’s Third Liebestraum, originally a song for low voice and piano, received a justly lyrical performance with a long pedal fermata at the middle, emphasizing the picturesque nature of an evanescent love dream. There were pianistic and memory problems in the performance, ultimately offset by some pearly right-hand scale passages.

American composer Robert Palmer, a teacher of Mr. Gartner, died in July at 95, and the pianist, after an emotional spoken introduction to the audience of 80, played Palmer's popular Toccata Ostinato. Room acoustics aside, the clangorous composition was presented with rhythmic power, differentiation of sound and striking left-hand chords running up and down the keyboard. The loud and curt sforzando ending caught many in hall by surprise. The dissonances and boogie-woogie style still are effective, though the piece was composed as long ago as 1945.

Chopin completed the recital, beginning with the two masterful Nocturnes from Op. 27. The C-Sharp Minor was true to the score, the piu mosso (bar 29) and agitato (measure 53) sections carefully observed. Mr. Gartner favored half pedal in the lyrical return of the modulated theme and produced a captivating ending ascending phrase and C Sharp chord. In The D-Flat Nocturne, a seminal masterpiece, the playing was frankly old fashioned with broken chords and many subtle points of rubato. Some of the right-hand runs did not sound, and in the coda the ascending chordal run in sixths was troublesome for the pianist. A rollicking reading of Chopin’s B Minor Scherzo, Op. 20, finished the formal program, the pianist throwing caution to the winds in the restless first theme and the fiery and taxing coda.

The energetic applause produced two encores, the first Respighi’s Notturno. Here Mr. Gartner emphasized the flowing melody over a gently lapping chordal accompaniment. It has become almost a signature piece for the pianist and recalled a lazy warm summer afternoon rather than the cool November breezes outside. It was followed by Moszkowski's F Major study, from the Op. 76 "Etude de Virtuosité," a favorite of Horowitz and Pletnev and, in Mr. Gartner's performance, a delectable bon bon for the audience.