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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

Elizabeth MacDougall Plays Debussy's Suite Feb. 19 at Mendocino College

MACDOUGALL'S PIANISM CHARMS MENDOCINO COLLEGE AUDIENCE FEB. 19

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 19, 2012

The adage that no woman is a prophet in her own home town was, as usual, proven false Feb. 19 when Ukiah native Elizabeth MacDougall gave a warmly satisfying piano recital in Mendocino College’s Choral Room under the auspices of Concerts Grand.

Ms. MacDougall’s artistry has long been admired in the Mendocino County community, and for this recital of three works her audience packed the small room and heard a committed and serious presentation, beginning with Bach’s G Minor English Suite, BWV 808. Ms. MacDougall is a thoughtful, focused player that pays attention to Bach’s pesky details and is liberal with repeats, though at times she lacks flamboyance. These salient qualities served her well in the set of dances that comprise the Suite. Her trills and turns throughout were clear, as was the articulation. The Courante was lovely with careful phrasing and, as with all the movements, she manages rock steady tempos. The Gigue sparkled and was judiciously played.

Debussy’s popular Children’s Corner Suite closed the first half and like the Bach Suite was prefaced by extended remarks from the artist. Composed in 1908 for his daughter, Debussy in six disparate movements encapsulates memories of his own childhood and suggests comparison with Schumann’s Kinderscenen and Faure’s Dolly Suite. The Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum section had clear chordal outlines and was built to a fine toccata-like conclusion, and Ms. MacDougall carried a relaxed approach into the famous Serenade for the Doll, heavily using the shift pedal and contrasting legato and staccato sections. The concluding Golliwog’s Cake Walk was played with spice, the jazzy harmonies accented and again the pace steady and deliberate.

Played from score as was the entire recital, Beethoven’s magnificent Sonata in E, Op. 109, comprised the entire second part. This restless but amiable work was played introspectively but without the wrenching espressivity that appears in the second movement's theme and six variations. Ms. MacDougall can spin a lovely cantabile and her pedaling was always clean, letting the music unfold naturally. What I missed was more flexibility in phrasing, as even the heavenly phrase that ends the work needed a more supple rhythm and touch.

Responding to a standing ovation, the pianist played Chopin's arristocratic C-Sharp Minor Waltz, Op. 64, No. 2

Ukiah musical benefactors Joan and George Louie underwrote the concert and hosted a lavish reception in their home, replete with music making at their two pianos and exceptional curry and dessert dishes. Praise for such musical support can go no higher.

The reviewer is the producer of the Concerts Grand series.