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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

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.