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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...
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...
RECITAL REVIEW

Violinist Alexander Barantschik

BARANTSCHIK AND FUKUHARA IN GLOWING FOUR SONATA NEWMAN RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 15, 2012

The program for Alexander Barantschik’s violin recital Jan. 15 in Newman Auditorium was not at first glance auspicious. And not because of the merits of the four sonatas, as all are masterpieces of the standard repertoire. The critical quandary was that the program was so conventional, the pieces comfortable for the artist, who as the San Francisco Symphony Concertmaster presumably has minimal practice time in less-often-played repertoire. Sonatas by Elgar, Faure, Respighi, Dohnanyi, Paderewski, Strauss, Rubinstein, Busoni, Reger and St. Saens would have been welcome for a Sonoma County audience.

And lowering the bar for an orthodox music menu, Mr. Barantschik’s partner in the San Francisco Symphony, Robin Sutherland, was unable to play and on short notice Akimi Fukuhara replaced him at the piano, flying in from Japan.

All this in hand, how was the playing in what was offered? Very fine indeed, beginning with Beethoven’s first Sonata in D Major, Op. 12, No. 1. Playing from score as he did all afternoon (understandable given a new pianist), Mr. Barantschik’s reading had a light touch throughout, echoed by the lovely and fast scales from his partner, her trills in both hands shimmering. A wider vibrato characterized the Andante con Moto second movement, still with a chaste tone. The tempos were brisk in the finale with Ms. Fukuhara pushing the pace and underlining subtle off-beat dissonances. Mr. Barantschik carefully controlled the final short chords, eliminating vibrato on several and then deftly adding it at the penultimate three.

Brahms’ G Major Sonata, Op. 78, closed the first half and began in a stately, almost leisurely way. It was a performance under the violinist’s complete bow control, and perhaps on balance a little understated. Mr. Barantschik’s tone could be slightly dry at times, particularly in fast passages close to the bridge, but always rich in the lower registers. Ms. Fukuhara chose not to emphasize a sonorous bass at the movement’s end, producing a muted sound, but Mr. Barantschik preceded his final two chords with old fashioned appoggiaturas. A lovely conceit.

The following Adagio unfolded with great charm, the highlight being a threnody line for the violin romantically played over a soft ostinato piano part. The concluding Allegro molto brings back themes from the first two movements and Mr. Barantschik wove them into a rich Brahmsian fabric that was both tender and contented.

Following a long intermission the audience returned for two more expertly-played sonatas, Mozart’s E Minor (K. 304) and the great Franck in A Major. The two-movement Mozart work, a Parisian sonata from 1778, was performed with an elegant interplay of voices. The instrumental balances were good and only in a few isolated places the artists were not in sync. The piano sporadically covered the violin line in the Tempo di menuetto in this Beethovenesque work, but careful legato and even chord playing from the duo produced musical optimism (when in E Major) from the prevailing sad tone of the entire piece.

Franck’s Sonata was admired by his contemporaries and has been a staple for virtuosos since the Ysa˙e premiere in 1886. Mr. Barantschik phrased the graceful opening movement with great care and Ms. Fukuhara’s piano part had larger sonority and impact than in the previous works. The reverse characterized the fiery and turbulent Allegro, Ms. Fukuhara’s scales quicksilver but lacking needed heft in the bass, and the violinist’s thematic projection potent in his top range. In the improvisatory Recitativo the music soared, the playing the finest of the concert. Mr. Barantschik held the fermata at the end, a captivating effect.

This richness of the duet continued in the canonic finale (Allegretto), each instrument playing off the other with majesty, the bits of previous movement themes masterly interwoven and leading to an exalted ascending violin scale and piano run at the end. It was a fervent and committed Franck throughout.

A standing ovation from the audience of 190 erupted, and despite repeated curtain calls, there was no encore to extend what was arguably the best local violin recital since Mr. Barantschik's colleague, Nadia Tichman, played four years ago in Oakmont.