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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...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Recital
NOVACEK'S 2ND HALF TRIFECTA SCORES AT MENDO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Modern classical piano recitals are in two parts, with longer and perhaps more profound music proceeding perhaps shorter and usually stimulating lighter fare. In John Novacek’s July 13 Mendocino Music Festival recital the best playing came unexpectedly in the eight abbreviated works comprising the ...
Recital
STYLUS AND PLAYING FANTASTICUS IN YOUNG'S ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Organist Robert Young gave a wonderful tour through the stylus fantasticus (fantastic style) organ literature June 25 playing a recital on the Casavant organ at Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Young recently became the organist at the Church and previously served for 20 years as Music D...
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.