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Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
RECITAL REVIEW
Oakmont Concert Series / Thursday, June 09, 2011
Einav Yarden, piano

Pianist Einav Yarden

BRILLIANT HAYDN SONATA HIGHLIGHTS YARDEN'S JUNE 9 OAKMONT RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, June 09, 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.