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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
Symphony
PEACE AND LOVE FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Before the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 4 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” Symphony CEO Alan Silow took a moment to acknowledge the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and to observe that music offers a more peaceful and loving view of the world. Mr. ...
RECITAL REVIEW
Concerts Grand / Sunday, February 19, 2012
Elizabeth MacDougall, piano

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.