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Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
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...
REVIEW

Pianist Nina Tichman

CRYSTALLINE SCHUBERT

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nina Tichman is a pianist with an artistic vision that puts clarity and proportion above all else. In her Oakmont Concert Series recital March 10, one of many she has played in Berger Auditorium, these sterling qualities perfectly served the concert’s opening music of Schubert, in this case the E Flat Sonata from 1817, D. 568.

Ms. Tichman’s subtle phrasing and nuanced cantabile, added to the bright treble of the piano, caught inimitably the wistful nature of the opening movement. Damper pedal was judiciously applied and there was a light touch throughout. The G Minor Andante Molto movement was played with mystery, almost a question and answer, and was lovely. Often Schubert’s piano sonatas can seem far too long, but it’s a heavenly length for musicians, and in the final three movements there was not a forced note or an unclear phrase. The long lines were relaxed and the many modulations in the finale deftly rendered. It was a perfectly chaste reading of a rarely-played score and for me the recital’s highlight.

Chopin’s often played Polonaise Fantasie, Op. 61, followed, and Ms. Tichman continued in a lyrical and understated vein. There was no sonic emphasis on the bass notes at the opening, and the pianist was in no hurry to stress the tone poem parts of this marvelous composition. It was a restrained performance, the loose formal structure proving no obstacle for Ms. Tichman’s transparent playing, the forward-looking chromatic harmonies unfolding in sharp relief. The final A flat chord, marked Fortissimo, was played that way, breaking the quiet of the long tenuto and soft left-hand trills.

After intermission four of Debussy’s 12 Etudes from 1915 were heard, pieces rarely seen on a concert program. Walter Gieseking thought the set as difficult as either of Chopin’s Ops. 10 and 25, and Ms. Tichman began with Pour les tierces and Pour les Degrés chromatiques. The latter was the more interesting, the artist’s right hand busy in perpetual motion and the left hand quickly playing in the treble. The barcarolle-like Pour les Agréments contained parts of Debussy’s La Cathedral engloutie and here the pedaling was precise and embellishments telling. The final Pour les Octaves was brilliantly played, but at a moderate tempo.

Contemporary composer Stefan Heucke (b. 1959) has written many compositions with stark social themes, and has just completed a set of Preludes, Op. 61, that incorporates Schumann’s imaginative comment about Chopin’s Preludes: “sketches, ruins and eagle wings.” Ms. Tichman played four from score, the In Moto Scorrendo and Molto moderato Preludes reflecting Chopin’s muse, at least on an initial hearing. The former had a whirl of notes, many sections in contrary motion, and great washes of sound with the damper pedal. The Molto moderato had a polonaise flavor, but one with a dissonant nobility. The pianist played the final Prelude (Sehr langsam und schwer) as a dirge march, deep bass notes sounding as tone clusters and contrasting with chords high in the treble. The effect was intense but never offensive. These are robust works.

Concluding the recital were three short Rachmaninoff works, beginning with the early Polichinelle from Op. 3. It’s not an ingratiating work, perhaps because of its meandering length, similar in rhythms to the compact and powerful Oriental Sketch of 1917. The pianist played it well but the G-Sharp Minor Prelude of Op. 32 quickly overshadowed the Polichinelle. Here Ms. Tichman’s ringing sonorities resembled sleigh bells on a snowy Russian night, musical clarity and lucid textures again her achieved goal.

The D Major Etude-Tableaux, Op. 39, No. 9, is a work of high drama, a formidable task for a pianist with lots of big chords. Ms. Tichman adopted a sober tempo, underscoring the work’s architecture at the expense of weighty sonority, and the approach did not quite unlock Rachmaninoff’s passion and powerful rhythmic surges.

No encore was offered.