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Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
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...
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.