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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...
RECITAL REVIEW

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.