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Chamber
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 08, 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...
Choral and Vocal
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...
Chamber
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...
Chamber
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...
Chamber
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 09, 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...
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
Symphony
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
Opera
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed...
RECITAL REVIEW
Ukiah Community Concert Association / Thursday, February 07, 2013
Sebastian Bäverstam, cello; Pei-Shan Lee, piano

Cellist Sebastian Bäverstam

SARDONIC AND LUSH RUSSIAN CELLO MUSIC IN BAVERSTAM'S UKIAH RECITAL

by Joel Cohen
Thursday, February 07, 2013

Cellist Sebastian Bäverstam and pianist Pei-Shan Lee enthralled their Ukiah audience Feb. 7 with an all Russian program, presented as the third concert of the Ukiah Community Concerts Association's 2012-13 season.

The recital began with Prokofiev's C Minor Sonata, Op. 119, a tour de force for both instruments. The opening, with the cello starting alone in the low register of the instrument, gave Mr. Bäverstam a chance to display his full tone and command of the instrument. There were some intonation problems in the first few minutes, but they disappeared as he warmed up to the piece and the audience. Prokofiev’s score is full of character and sudden changes of mood which need to be exaggerated, but Mr. Bäverstam, with his formidable technique, did his best to burnish these sudden transitions, making the piece somewhat smoother and more traditional than the music seemed to need. Nonetheless, it was an excellent performance from both artists, and the audience in Ukiah's New Life Community Church clearly enjoyed it.

Shostakovich’s Op. 40 Sonata, written in 1934, just before his powerful Fifth Symphony and at a time he was reining in his more modernistic writing to appease the Soviet authorities. This makes the sonata very accessible to the listener, while still keeping Shostakovich’s distinctive style and sound. The first movement was performed in a lyrical and flowing manner, the interplay between cello and piano smooth. The muted adagio at the end of the movement was effective with Mr. Bäverstam showing an extraordinary pianissimo that could be heard at the back of the hall. The Allegro second movement was written after Shostakovich had toured a new factory with much banging machinery, and is very rhythmic with sparkling runs of harmonics in the cello and trading back and forth arpeggios with the piano.

The third movement is gorgeous and quiet, full of inner thoughts about where Shostakovich’s heart and mind were in the difficult times in which he wrote this work.

It is followed by a sardonic finale, demonstrating that he could function in the real world, never showing his true thoughts and feelings, when the occasion demanded. This is a wonderful work for cello and piano, and Mr. Bäverstam and Ms. Lee played it confidently and sensitively. For me it was the best performance of the evening.

After the intermission we were treated to an estimable performance of the Rachmaninoff G Minor Sonata, Op. 19. It is a full-blooded Russian romantic work, without the caricature and sardonic elements of the composers of the first half. Again, as with the Prokofiev, I had the feeling that Mr. Bäverstam was smoothing out the dramatic lines, rather than getting engrossed in them and making them more intense. There were also more instrumental balance problems in this performance, probably more because of Rachmaninoff's dense writing then for the player’s lack of sensitivity to the important lines. But there were more than a few times I wished I could hear better what the cello was playing.

The ensemble work of the Bäverstam Lee duo was excellent. It must also be added that Ms. Lee is a formidable pianist who understands well when she must accompany and when she must lead. It was a pleasure hearing them in concert.