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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
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.