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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 / Sunday, April 7, 2013
Vadim Repin, violin. Andrei Korobeinikov, piano

Violinist Vadim Repin

VADIM REPIN: STARLIGHT, SHINING BRIGHT

by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 7, 2013


Born in Siberia in 1971, violinist Vadim Repin is as Russian as they come, but he played nary a note of Russian music in his April 7 recital at the Green Music Center's Weill Hall. The closest he got was the last movement of the Janacek violin sonata, which celebrates the triumphal entry of Russian troops into Moravia during World War I. The other sonatas on his wide-ranging program--by Brahms, Grieg and Ravel--were far removed from any Russian influence.

Musicians, however, know no borders, as evidenced by Repin and his delightful accompanist Andrei Korobeinikov's superb renditions of all the nationalities that flowed through their fingers. The nearly full house was entranced by Janacek's pungent evocations of his native Moravia; by Brahms' full-bore German romanticism; by Grieg's ebullient vision of Norway; and finally by Ravel's scintillating portrait of 1920s Paris.

Of all the sonatas Repin played, the opening Janacek was the most dramatic. A born storyteller with a flair for opera, Janacek invests his music with psychological suspense, with phrases that sound like trains of thought or surging emotions. His characteristic device is the sudden interjection--a device that Repin has thoroughly mastered. Throughout the sonata, he brought these interjections into play like flashes of lightning. The result was pure suspense. To be sure, his rhythms were exact, his intonation razor sharp, his bowings a marvel--but what carried the day was the drama, the headlong rush into compelling narrative.

Now in his 40s, Repin has long since proved his technical command of the violin. Every aspect of his playing is admirable, from the suppleness of his vibrato to his impeccable bowing and phrasing. He is old-school in his disdain for histrionics. He plays with feet firmly planted, eyes often closed, and knees flexible. In the stormiest passages, he will sometimes swoop downward, but his posture is otherwise erect and serene.

The Janacek was a concert in itself, displaying the full range of Repin's abilities, particularly his ability to enact different roles. At times he was the intruder, threatening the musical serenity with thunderbolts. At other times he was the very image of pastoral quiescence, flowing as languidly as a slow-moving river. The final movement was an absolute marvel, its phrases imbued with mystery, suspense and ultimate triumph.

After the Janacek, the Brahms Violin Sonata No. 3 seemed almost staid. Repin and Korobeinikov opted for a smooth approach to this frequently played work. The opening phrases were light, with little vibrato. As the players dug in, they maintained an excellent balance, but the results were not as impassioned as in the Janacek. It was not until the final movement that Repin really got going. He roared right in, harnessing Brahms' wild horses and driving through the score like a man possessed. The wonderful cascade of sextuplets at the movement's climax was a high point of the afternoon.

During intermission, some of the crowd wandered outside to investigate the amphitheater behind Weill Hall's rear wall, which can be opened during warm weather. The skies were gray, however, and the air cold. Fortunately, sunny skies and warm breezes were only moments away, in Grieg's Violin Sonata No. 2. This irrepressible work is about as life-affirming as music gets, with one happy phrase following another in spellbinding succession.

Repin, who had bared his soul in the previous two works, seemed utterly captivated by Grieg's optimism. The musical narrative was somewhat predictable, but Repin squeezed every ounce out of the score. He played intelligently, with full knowledge of where the music was heading, and he made it look easy. He was so relaxed that his left hand barely seemed to move during the most dazzling runs.

The applause after the Grieg was sustained, but Repin quieted everyone down by launching into Ravel's only violin sonata. The change in mood was palpable. Over the lightest of piano accompaniments, Repin's fiddle sang an eerie pentatonic song with a rollicking 6/8 beat. Playing all the while, Repin began a long decrescendo that ended with the most pianissimo sounds this side of a mute. The sustained high note at the end of the movement was magical.

Bringing America to Paris, the second movement is marked "Blues: Moderato," and bluesy it is. Blue notes, emphatic syncopations and repeated glissandi herald the entry of the Jazz Age into classical music. Repin played all of this to great effect, but Korobeinikov seemed to get a little carried away, investing his massive chords with a bit too much oomph.

In contrast, the perpetual motion of the last movement was a model of balance. Repin, who had barely looked at his music all afternoon, stared intently at the score, matching his rapid-fire runs to Korobeinikov's prestidigitations. The excitement was infectious, culminating in a spectacular ending.

After an immediate standing ovation and a couple of curtain calls, Repin played one encore, finally acknowledging one of his fellow Russians: Jascha Heifetz's version of the heavenly "Estrellita," by Manuel Ponce. It wasn't real Russian music, but it was a fitting encore for a genuine international star.

[Reprinted by permission of San Francisco Classical Voice.]