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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
Redwood Arts Council / Saturday, February 11, 2012
Boris Andrianov, cello; Alexander Kobrin, piano

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.