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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
MasterCard Performance Series / Saturday, March 02, 2013
Anne-Sophie Mutter,violin; Lambert Orkis, piano

Violinish Anne-Sophie Mutter

LUTOSLAWSKI PARTITA THRILLING IN MUTTER'S WEILL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 02, 2013

Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter charmed a Weill Hall audience March 2 in a recital that eschewed popular works and elicited rapt attention from the 1,300 listeners present. Forgoing the staples of the Brahms and Beethoven sonatas, or the Franck and Prokofiev, the German artist played provocative and exciting music with her pianist of long standing, Lambert Orkis.

Lutoslawski’s thorny five-movement Partita from 1984 was played in the second half and was a tour de force for the violinist with a rollicking beginning, eerie octave slides and high-pitch whines on two and three strings. Intermixed into a piece of much cacophony was Ms. Mutter’s lovely touch, and though the violin part wanders, she was perfectly in sync with Mr. Orkis. It’s rare for a string player to have the same pianist for more than a few years, yet the Mutter-Orkis duo has been together since 1988. The Partita has sections of wide instrumental departure that often resolve quickly into unison playing. Both musicians were impeccable in this difficult work, which is more about sound than notes. Mr. Orkis is a superbly fluent artist who never covered his partner, and it was rare to hear a real forte chord from the piano.

Fluent and committed playing was also heard in the recital’s concluding work, Saint-Saëns' D Minor Sonata. It was a reading full of passion and free from any hint of vulgarity or the Lutoslawski’s dissonances. The difficult bowing in the Scherzo was beautifully and crisply done (four fast up bows in a row) and the transition to the perpetuo moto finale was well handled. The playing was fast and exciting, and the sixteenth-note passages near the explosive end were well coordinated and drove inexorably to the finish.

The concert opened with Mozart’s G Major Sonata, K. 379, in a romantic conception that took the repeats in the variation movement (Andante cantabile) with different dynamics and articulation. This is a hallmark of romantic era music making where repeats always have many subtle differences. At several points Ms. Mutter used a spiccato bow and sporadically played exquisite legato scales, and once after a long upward scale passage she deftly paused before the last note. A lovely effect.

In the solo piano opening to the Schubert C Major Fantasie (D. 934), Mr. Orkis’ tremolo was not quite as magical as possible, but the violinist’s entrance was magical enough, the beginning so quiet as to be almost inaudible. As the dynamic became louder, still in the opening passage with piano tremolo, Ms. Mutter’s vibrato began to intrude. The second "movement" allegro was played in a more restrained manner than one usually hears, to good effect.

The long variations movement was at times shaky and foreshortened by the duo’s decision not to take any of the repeats after the thematic statement, which has a “written in” repeat in which the instruments alternate taking the lead. Most performances include these repeats. Hungarian touches were captured by the duo as well as some brooding drama.

One encore was offered, Ravel’s "Vocalise Étude En Forme de Habanera." This gem in G Minor was seductively played by Ms. Mutter and all the more effective after the excitement of the Saint-Saëns sonata.

Bronislaw Irving contributed to this review.