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Choral and Vocal
SOMBER GERMAN POETRY IN SONG AT ROSCHMANN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Two weeks does make a hefty difference. Feb. 3 saw the diva Renée Fleming beguile a full Weill Hall house in a mix of Brahms, Broadway show songs and Dvorak chestnuts. It was a gala event with couture gowns and colorful extra-musical communication between singer and her rapt audience. Dorothea Rösc...
Chamber
NOVEL AND FAMILIAR WORKS FROM THE TILDEN TRIO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 11, 2018
North Coast chamber music fans have the luxury of two fine resident piano trios, with the frequently performing Trio Navarro at Sonoma State, and the Tilden Trio at San Rafael’s Dominican University. The Tilden plays less often, but their Feb. 11 performance brought several hundred to Angelico Hall ...
Symphony
A FIFTH CONTENDER ENTERS THE RING FOR THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, February 10, 2018
In these international times, what makes a piece of music American? For Michael Christie, the answer is that it needs to have at least premiered on these shores, if not been composed here. Thus the rationale for the “all American” program that Christie--the fifth and final conducting candidate for t...
Recital
HAUNTING RACHMANINOFF WORKS IN HU'S MAO RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 08, 2018
Ching-Yun Hu made a return Music at Oakmont appearance Feb. 8 in Berger Auditorium, reprising a recital she made in the same hall four years ago. Many of the recital’s trappings were the same, but the music Ms. Hu chose to play was decidedly different. All afternoon the pianist was in an aggressiv...
Chamber
A COMPLETE ARTISTIC PACKAGE IN FLEMING'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Vaida Falconbridge and Mary Beard
Saturday, February 03, 2018
The diva Renée Fleming strode on the Weill Hall stage Feb. 2 in her first couture gown of the evening, a gray and swirling cream strapless sheath with flamboyant coordinating stole. For this concert, Ms. Fleming stayed to somewhat lighter fare, foregoing heavier dramatic and coloratura arias for a v...
Recital
ZNAIDER-KULEK DUO CHARMS AND CHALLANGES WEILL AUDIENCE FEB. 2
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 02, 2018
Weill hall has mounted several exceptional piano recitals, with Garrick Ohlsson’s titanic Liszt concert, and of course Lang Lang’s two insouciant but also compelling performances topping the list since 2013. But arguably the virtuoso violinists have on balance been more impressive, and thoughts g...
Chamber
VIVID GERMAN ROMANTICISM IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT IN SCHROEDER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Though not new to Sonoma County, the Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) concerts are relatively recent in the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall. So the first of three spring concerts Jan. 27 provided a picture of what’s in the repertoire leading up to their Festival this summer at Sonoma’s Ha...
Symphony
MONUMENTAL NIELSEN SYMPHONY CAPS SO CO PHIL CONCERT AT SR HS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Turning again away from conventional repertoire, the Sonoma County Philharmonic programmed Jan. 27 three works in what were local debut performances in Santa Rosa High School’s Performing Arts Center. Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony, Op. 29, called “Inextinguishable,” closed the program with an extravaga...
Chamber
ECLECTIC ANDERSON & ROE TRANSCRIPTIONS CAPTIVATE WEILL HALL AUDIENCE
by Nicki Bell
Sunday, January 21, 2018
From the first moment when Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe walked Jan. 21 on the Weill Hall stage and spoke to the audience about their two-piano program, it was clear that an afternoon of drama, humor, virtuosity, warmth, transcendence and excitement was in store. This dynamic and mesmerizing ...
Chamber
BALCOM TRIO HIGHLIGHTS DELPHI'S RAC CONCERT IN OCCIDENTAL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, January 20, 2018
The Redwood Arts Council audience first met the Delphi Trio (Jeffrey LaDeur, (piano), Liana Berube (violin), and cellist Michelle Kwon) in 2013, and subsequent concerts in the same Occidental hall have become crowd favorites. The January 20th program before a capacity audience seemed to have enthus...
RECITAL REVIEW
Concerts Grand / Sunday, October 30, 2011
Frank Wiens, piano

Frank Wiens Plays Falla's Cubana Oct. 30 at Mendocino College (G. Louie Photo)

WIENS' SPANISH PROGRAM CHARMS CONCERTS GRAND AUDIENCE AT MENDOCINO COLLEGE

by Mendo Cinco
Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pianist Frank Wiens is a popular visitor to Northern California concert halls as recitalist and lecturer, but has strangely been absent from Mendocino County for decades. Under the auspices of the Concerts Grand series, this oversight was corrected Oct. 30 in a memorable recital at Mendocino College’s intimate Choral Room.

In a program that was almost exclusively Spanish music, Mr. Wiens began with chaste readings of two Soler Sonatas, in D Minor (DR 11) and D Major (DR 84). There was no rushing in the first, a beguiling reading, and the second was more Scarlatti like with a whirl of repeated notes, sharply-etched ornaments and an artful blending of themes. The D Major was a specialty of the late Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha, as were additional works that don’t attract many virtuoso pianists.

Two Albeniz pieces from his Iberia Suite came next, Evocacion and the familiar Triana. The pianist had exceptional rhythmic and pianissimo control in the first, the top notes singing and the many ritards subtle and impressionistic. In the F-Sharp Minor Triana (a suburb of Seville) Mr. Wiens evoked the flavor of a fiesta with dramatic gypsy chord playing.

A highlight of the afternoon was Falla’s four Pieces Espagnoles, from 1908, and probably a North Bay premiere performance. The opening Jota was a dance of percussive and brassy phrases, carefully gauged by Mr. Wiens, as was the seductive Cubana. Here the artist was in no hurry, underplaying the many modulations and meandering into unexpected sonic thickets. The third section, Montañesa, was played unaffectedly and with charm, and some use of the sostenuto pedal. It elicited a solo “bravo” from a listener, moving the artist to hold up one finger that indicated that the final Andaluza was to come. In this section Mr. Wiens’ playing sounded castanets in a Flamenco style, a bright dance that was improvisational but of course was pianistically impeccable.

The first half’s concluding work, Liszt’s Spanish Rhapsody, brought the audience of 37 to its feet in loud applause. The opening surprisingly did not have a fast tempo, with ample pedal point, and the rapid right hand arpeggiated chords resounded and did the accurate skips. The pianist sought clarity over speed in the tsunami of notes and the syncopated rhythms (Madrid rhythms?) and quick glissandos were exciting to hear. The standard ending was chosen over the more powerful ending fashioned by Busoni.

In a piece dedicated to the Spanish pianist Ricardo Viñes, Rodrigo’s toccata-like A l’ombre de Torre Bermeja began the second half in a rhapsodic vein far removed from the preceding Lisztian fireworks. The lyrical middle section was played elegantly, and the following bell phrases in both hands were telling. Mr. Wiens underscored the abstruse dissonances. The same could be said of his playing of two Granados works, the familiar Maiden and the Nightingale and Los Requiebros (Flattery) from the monumental Suite Goyescas. The long melody in the tenor in Maiden was captivatingly played, the many trills light and even, and ending with dainty filigree. The second work seemed to be too sectionalized, lacking clarity, the double notes never lucid.

Debussy’s La Puerta Del Vino from Book Two of his Preludes was the penultimate programmed work, and here was projected boldly with boisterous phrasing. A more boisterous piece, the Horowitz transcription of Bizet’s opera Carmen, concluded for formal program in grand style. The right-hand scale playing was very good, the big sound alleviated by short sections of repose. Mr. Wiens half pedaled many of the runs, the terrific Bizet themes pealing out with virtuosity, albeit not Horowitz, that seemed to push the limits of the piano and even the small Choral room.

One encore was offered, Mompou’s No. 6 from his Cançion i Danse Suite. The opening part (cantabile espressivo) was performed elegantly, in sharp contrast to the explosive rhythms of the concluding dance. A perfect encore.

The recital, played without score and in a snazzy concert tuxedo, was underwritten by Dorothy Sugawara, with area management by pianist and teacher Elizabeth MacDougall. Frank Wiens has at last ignited local interest in his artistry, to be on display again when he plays Grieg’s A Minor Concerto with the Ukiah Symphony Dec. 3 and 4 in Center Theater. A pianist worth discovering.