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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...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 9, 2020
The Feb. 9 performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the 1820s—emp...
RECITAL REVIEW

Pianist Anton Nel

THE COMPLETE PACKAGE

by Terry McNeill
Friday, December 7, 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.