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MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
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...
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.