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Chamber
VANHAL QUARTET AT VOM FESTIVAL DISCOVERY AT HANNA CENTER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 15, 2018
A near-capacity crowd of 220 filled the Sonoma Hanna Boys Center Auditorium July 15 for the opening concert of the fourth Valley of the Moon Music Festival. This Festival presents gems of the Classical and early Romantic periods performed on instruments of the composer’s era, which presents a few ch...
Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
RECITAL REVIEW
Concerts Grand / Sunday, March 20, 2011
Evgeni Mikhailov, piano

Marin Pianist Joan Weinstein Greets Evgeni Mikhailov March 20

DRAMATIC 19TH CENTURY RUSSIAN WORKS HIGHLIGHT MIKHAILOV'S IMPOSING SRJC RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dark and rainy skies parted March 20 at Santa Rosa Junior College for Concerts Grand’s last recital of the Santa Rosa season. However, the sun and warmth quickly brought a new and musical storm into the area, Russian pianist Evgeni Mikhailov’s virtuosity presiding through the works of Chopin, Schumann, Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky.

Before 101 pianophiles in the small Newman Auditorium Mr. Mikhailov, having just ended a 25-concert American tour playing three concertos with a Polish orchestra, changed the printed program and began with five Chopin Preludes from Op. 28, surprisingly juxtaposing the opening C Major with Preludes 20 through 24. Here he set the stage for the entire concert, the playing outsized and with the C major an agitated and restlessness conception was established. The massive and majestic chords of the C Minor (No. 20) dissolved into a tranquil calm, and the G Minor Prelude was played with bravura in the left-hand octave solo. The D Minor was angry and defiant but from my seat I could not see if the artist changed fingers on the final fortissimo repeated notes in the bass. Each had substantial heft and asymmetrical timing.

Schumann’s lovely Scenes from Childhood (Kinderscenen), Op. 15, followed and was a reading that evoked memories of the Valentina Lisitsa performance from 2009 from the same stage. Here there were many deft touches, such as the long decresendo at the end of the Wichteige Begebenheit section and the elegant articulation in Fast zu Ernst. The well-known Träumerei and “The Poet Speaks” parts were not hurried, Schumann’s backward look at his youth in a small German town palpable. The Ukrainian Lisitsa would have been moved by the Kazan artist’s transversal of this fresh and memorable score.

Completing the first half was Mikhail Pletnev’s popular transcription of the Suite from Tchaikovsky’s Ballet “Nutcracker," laat played in Santa Rosa in 2009 by the youthful Armenian charmer Nareh Arghamanyan. Ms. Arghamanyan’s interpretation was diffuse and poetic and Mr. Mikhailov’s was red hot and impulsive. The insistent Tchaikovsky themes in the 17-minute composition were everywhere evident and the pianist opted for the difficult to accomplish combination of sonority and clarity. His damper pedal control here was impressive and the evocative bells of the second section were delicate and richly hued. The pianistic skips in the “Tarantelle” and the extended arpeggios in the “Intermezzo” spun out a noble theme, ending quietly with just a touch of right-hand flourish. There was sudden audience applause at the conclusion of the “Trepek”, a rare occurrence in a solo piano work, and striking contrapuntal figures in the Andante maestoso, the work’s longest section.

It was a scenic and convincing interpretation, and brought the hall to its feet in applause.

Mussorgsky’s monumental Pictures at an Exhibition comprised the entire second half, a ten-section recreation of paintings of one Viktor Hartman that the composer had seen in St. Petersburg in 1874. It’s a landmark of 19th century pianism, played last here thirty years ago by French pianist John Philippe Collard. Mr. Mikhailov began the opening soforzandos rather fast with an insistent ostinato left hand and some unique inner voices that never covered the main melody. His right hand repeated chords and expressive trills were fluently played throughout, and the Great Bogatyar Gate of Kiev had a brawny outline as well as resounding power and, yes, a lot of loudness. In difficult hand positions Mr. Mikhailov was able to maintain both the work’s required momentum and the return to the “Prominade” and a forceful second theme based on Russian chant. The pianist played the ending left-hand tremolos sonorously.

With ravenous applause a quiet encore was called for but Mr. Mikhailov was clearly not ready for bagatelles, and thundered a controlled performance of Rachmaninoff’s D Major Etude Tableaux, Op. 33, No. 9. It was a courageous choice, noble in it power and drama.

The reviewer is the producer of the Concerts Grand piano series.