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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...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
RECITAL REVIEW

Pianist Einav Yarden

BRILLIANT HAYDN SONATA HIGHLIGHTS YARDEN'S JUNE 9 OAKMONT RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, June 9, 2011

Oakmont’s popular concert series, now in its 20th year, usually programs just two pianists in a 12-concert season. However, producer Robert Hayden’s eclectic taste guarantees that the selected pianists will play provocative works, and it was again so June 9 when Israeli artist Einav Yarden presented a bifurcated program before 150 in Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium.

In an admirable first half, Ms. Yarden began with the 11 Beethoven Bagatelles, Op. 119, a change from the announced Op. 33 Bagatelles. These are amazing works, a few just 15 seconds in lengths, and encompass snippets of the Bonn master’s endless invention. Many feature a light staccato touch in which the pianist excels, but others (the fourth and tenth) are fast, scattered and insistent. Ms. Yarden caught the ephemeral nature of the works, presenting a conception that nothing additional needed to be said about each.

Seven of Bartok’s 14 Op. 6 Bagatelles followed, obviously harmonically different than Beethoven but also requiring quick tempo changes and clear articulation. The atmospheric third Bagatelle was followed by dramatic marching chords in the fourth and virtuosic heraldry in the final seventh. Ms. Yarden made the dissonances, perhaps grating even at their composition in 1908, seem of a piece and natural. The pianist can float a lovely pianissimo when the music demands. It was a strong performance and drew fulsome applause.

Haydn’s D Major Sonata, Hob. XVI: 24, completed the first half and received a masterful reading from the pianist. The opening Allegro featured a quick tempo, distinctive lines and chaste pedal. Ms. Yarden’s finger staccato added clarity and Haydn’s humor and charm were in evidence throughout. Mention must be made of the pianist’s wonderful scale playing, even in difficult hand positions and where off-beat accents are called for in the score. The slow movement (Adagio) had a sense of mystery and the pianist’s even trills and control of balances were exemplary. The right-hand runs in the finale were brilliant, the legato used in some scales for contrast. A deft touch. It was for this reviewer the best Haydn Sonata played in the local area in years, and the highlight of the recital.

Two Schumann songs in Liszt transcriptions opened the second half and were less than congenial for the pianist. The Frühlingsnacht, from the Liederkreis, Op. 39, No. 12, gave the pianist technical trouble, albeit with a judicious tempo that allowed subtlety. There was no shimmering magic in the repeated chords. The celebrated Widmung transcription, in the first of two versions Liszt wrote, was tentative and in the declamatory sections brittle and lacking fervor.

Closing the recital was Schumann’s great C Major Fantasie, Op. 17, one of the glories of 19th Century romantic pianism. Here Ms. Yarden was more in her element, giving a performance of abundant character without being really memorable. The first movement was played at a moderate tempo and with command, but the dynamic extremes needed to underline what Schumann said were his most passionate utterances were missing. The final resolution into C Major, at a place the pianist Moritz Rosenthal said only occurred just before the allusion to a Beethoven song, was tender and properly lingering.

The middle march movement was not tentative but was also not orchestral, the pianist choosing to underplay the marcato elements. It was not a note-perfect movement in the coda but the perilous contrary-motion skips prior to the final three chords were taken with precision and speed. In a middle-of-the-road performance Schumann’s exaltation with ardor and pianistic sound were absent.

The sonorous finale was had the requisite flow and both of the climaxes had power and led inexorably to the quiet postlude. Here the concert piano almost seems to lack hammers and Ms. Yarden brought forth the most tonal colors and musical contemplation of the afternoon. After many seconds of silence a standing ovation greeted the conclusion of the Fantasie, but no encore was offered.

Ms. Yarden, in her first extended tour of Sonoma County, appeared on the Charles Sepos KRCB “Curtain Call” program June 10 and in a posh private recital for Concerts Grand June 11 in Santa Rosa.