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Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
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...
RECITAL REVIEW
MasterCard Performance Series / Saturday, March 2, 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 2, 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.