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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...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
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...
RECITAL REVIEW
Santa Rosa Junior College Chamber Concerts / Friday, December 07, 2012
Anton Nel, piano

Pianist Anton Nel

THE COMPLETE PACKAGE

by Terry McNeill
Friday, December 07, 2012

Listening to Anton Nel’s piano playing is similar to meeting a charming avuncular relative for a good meal – always much to savor. The Austin-based artist played a balanced and instructive recital Dec. 7 in SRJC’s Newman Auditorium as part of the College’s chamber music series.

Nel opened with a consummately played rendition of Bach’s seven-movement D Major Partita, BWV 828. In the Allemande, he lavished chaste tone and selected a slow tempo, playing off the dissonances. The Courante was an object lesson of clear contrapuntal lines, and the repose of the Sarabande was underscored as the pianist played the left-hand crossover arabesques impeccably. The last notes were breathlessly held. The Gigue and Fugue was again perfectly gauged, not too fast, and the ornaments were deftly performed.

Nel’s pianistic control moved easily into Debussy’s Estampes, but here he added color and a bit of mystery in the opening “Pagodes.” “La Soireé dans Grénade” was a sultry and complicated dance under the artist’s fingers, and he half pedaled sections of “Gardens in the Rain” with a broad dynamic range.

Closing the first half was the “Allegro Concierto” of Granados, a bravura work from 1904. Here the palette became brighter and the improvisatory character seemed sun-drenched. It was the most exciting playing of the evening.

Two cornerstone works comprised the second half, Chopin’s F Sharp Barcarolle, Op. 60, and Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata, Op. 53. Mr. Nel stressed the Italianate character of Chopin’s themes, and the rhythmic undulations suggested Grand Canal gondoliers. He let lots of air into the piece and never hurried. A lovely performance.

The Waldstein Sonata received a masterful interpretation. Clean scale playing is a prerequisite, and Nel provided bright and tidy runs throughout all three movements. He eschewed inner voices and some of the opening Allegro’s humor in favor of a thoughtful conception with subtle ritards. The sonorous short Adagio was played throughout with full shift pedal, generating haunting warmth.

Mr. Nel adopted a dreamy approach to the final movement’s beginning, his damper pedal technique precise and the long trills in both hands always even. He never was in a hurry and was content to let the passion of the writing emerge from his terrific pianism. The written glissando octaves were played as single notes.

A standing ovation produced a glowing performance of the Liszt transcription of Schumann’s “Widmung,” Op. 25. The encore was a fitting end to a complete package of high-level pianism by a commanding artist.