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Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Recital
GLOVER'S ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHT'S CINNABAR RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Daniel Glover is arguably the busiest virtuoso pianist in the San Francisco Bay area, but rarely is heard in North Bay concerts. So 90 local pianophiles were anxious to hear him Feb. 17 in Petaluma’s charming small Cinnabar Theater, and they were rewarded with an eclectic program of sometimes unfam...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
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.