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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

Alexander Kobrin and Boris Andrianov in Occidental (K. Broderson photo)

BRILLIANT RUSSIAN DUO IN REDWOOD ARTS COUNCIL OCCIDENTAL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 11, 2012

It’s a rare occurrence in a cello recital that each programmed piece was both a masterwork of the literature and flawlessly performed, admitting nothing but awe and warm satisfaction from even the most seasoned string aficionado.

Such was the thrilling Redwood Arts Council recital of Boris Andrianov Feb. 11 in Occidental's Performing Arts Center before a packed house of 200. How does a flawless cello recital unfold? First a powerful pianist is needed, and the Russian Virtuoso Alexander Kobrin is just that. Next, a serious and demanding program is expected. No David Popper or Julius Klengel pieces. Finally, the cellist has to have a powerful interpretative personality, similar to but distinct from artists such as Casals, Piatigorsky, Rostropovich and DuPre.

Mr. Andrianov has this artistic stature and proved it quickly in the evening's initial work, Beethoven's C Major Sonata of Op. 102. The haunting opening theme moved effortlessly into the lyrical second theme and Mr. Andrianov underscored the many subtle dynamic contrasts. The Montagnana cello seemed to “growl” caressingly in the Adagio, preceding the introduction to the finale that alluded deftly to the first movement. Both artists securely built the momentum in a seamless partnership but kept distinct voices.

The first half closed with Britten’s Op. 65 Sonata in C, a commanding piece from 1961 in five disparate movements. The furious sections of musical interplay found Mr. Kobrin note perfect and never afraid of his left hand power, and Mr. Andrianov’s cello rich in the bottom register. The pizzicato opening of the Scherzo was magical, the plucking in the cello expected but Mr. Kobrin elicited nearly identical sound from his hammered string piano! His running passages were always clearly articulated, continuing into a perfectly balanced slow march of the Lento, the cello played with mute. Here the performers made the music sound like it was composed by Shostakovich, becoming clangorous and sonically surprising with long finger-board slides from the cellist. Mr. Andrianov all evening exhibited consummate bow control and a jumping spiccato bow in the energetic fifth movement Marcia.

Schumann’s three lush Op. 73 Fantasiestuck began the second part, the most popular piece on the program due partly to its many transcriptions for clarinet and French horn. But the tender and expressive sections sound perfect for the cello and Mr. Andrianov made the most of their romantic restlessness. The phrasing from both artists was patrician and the second part (Lebhaft leicht) elegant in every detail, especially in the pianist’s velvet arpeggios.

Italian composer Giovanni Sollima (b. 1962) is a cello master and his Lamentatio (1997) is a tour de force for solo cello, requiring a brilliant technique of the performer. Mr. Andrianov played the eight-minute work fearlessly and with radiant tone and dead-on pitch, as he did throughout the concert. The audience appeared astonished and excited at the potent reading of an unfamiliar composition.

Ending the recital was a pillar of 20th-Century music for cello, Shostakovich’s Op. 40 Sonata from 1934. Mr. Kobin’s introductory remarks, referring to the composer’s Fourth Symphony and opera Lady MacBeth of the Mtsensk from the same period, underscored the masterly invention of the opening Allegro. Here both musicians were interested in the long line, the contemplative first theme giving way to dramatic outbursts, always supported by Mr. Kobrin’s powerful sound and infallible left-hand octaves. Mr. Andrianov carefully widened his vibrato with increasing volume, symmetrically narrowing it with lowered sonority. The cellist played with concentration, eschewing the physical flamboyance of Misha Maisky without giving up one iota of tonal opulence.

As in many Shostakovich works, the themes can be initially banal but always take on complexity and become unforgettable in context, especially when performed with this duo’s artistry. The concluding Allegro was played with little string vibrato, beginning with mute but then quickly becoming vivacious and witty. This was playing with sweep and big gestures.

Mention needs to be made of the hall’s piano, a less than professional instrument with limited treble sustain, slow key repetition, damper leakage in loud chords and muddy bass tones. Mr. Kobrin’s approach was to give no quarter, making the inadequate instrument sing and roar as if it were without peer.

The two stellar Russians gave the finest cello recital in the North Bay since the Isserlis-Gerstein concert in Newman long ago. Their musical marriage was passionately united in the service of great music.