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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
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.