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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
RECITAL REVIEW

Pianist Lawrence Holmefjord-Sarabi

FAST AND FURIOUS AT THE RAVEN THEATER

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pianist Lawrence Holmefjord-Sarabi returned to a hometown Healdsburg Raven Theater audience Feb. 13 in a piano recital heavy on finger busting virtuoso works but short on pianistic subtlety.

Charging into Beethoven’s C Major Sonata, Op.53 (Waldstein), Mr. Holmefjord-Sarabi disclosed that his interests are removed from instrumental color and subtlety, and that he is most happy with the loud and fast. Throughout the program he selected blockbuster display pieces to wow the audience of 200, and when quiet playing might characterize three of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, little attention was given to their elusive and poetic nature. The Op. 66 Wedding Day in Troldhaugen was overplayed and too loud, the bass chords punched out, and both the delicate Op. 12 Arietta and the noble Op. 54 Notturno were too fast and monochromatic.

In the Waldstein Sonata the notes were performed admirably but the work’s humor and in some areas restrained majesty were absent. First-movement section transitions were blurred and he seemed to be always in a rush. Even the usually leisurely floated single G note at the end of the second movement’s Adagio Molto disappeared in the rush to get to the Rondo. The finale’s famous octave glissandi, G to G in alternating hands, were played as scales, and recently Anton Nel did the same in his Santa Rosa Junior College recital. It must be mentioned that the pianist commands a speedy right-hand trill.

Not surprisingly Mr. Holmefjod-Sarabi’s aggressive approach worked best in Book II of the Brahms Paganini Variations, Op. 35. Though tempos were moderate relative to current virtuoso playing, these demonic and loud works comprised of 14 thorny variations needed the agitated playing of the pianist, and he played them with confidence and aplomb.

Following intermission Stravinsky’s Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka was heard, and the recital concluded with Balakirev’s arrangement of Glinka’s Song “The Lark” and the 1865 Oriental Fantasie “Islamey.” The three paraphrases from Stravinsky’s 1921 ballet went by in a blur of glittering display, the long hand stretches and left-hand fireworks exciting the audience. The performance of “The Lark” had good octave playing but was mundane, too loud and lacked rhythmic subtlety and charm.

Mr. Holmefjord-Sarabi chose a moderate tempo for the rich pianistic fabric of Islamey, a showpiece for advanced students and virtuosi alike. The artist’s cross-hand skips and memory were not infallible in this demanding work, but the audience jumped to its feet following the last fortissimo bass tremolo as for a sports figure.