DEMANDING VIOLIN SONATAS CONQUERED BY BEILMAN-WEISS DUO IN SCHROEDER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Violinist Benjamin Beilman’s ravishing Mozart performance at last summer’s Weill Hall ChamberFest finale lured an enthusiastic crowd to Schroeder Hall May 14 to hear if his secure virtuosity was up to a program of demanding sonatas. He did not disappoint.
With the powerful pianist Orion Weiss in t...
SOVIETS INVADE WEILL HALL, TAKE NO PRISONERS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 07, 2017
Bruno Ferrandis may be French, but he excels in Soviet repertoire. His Slavonic expertise was more than amply demonstrated at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s May 7 concert, where the program began joyfully with Khachaturian’s ballet suite from “Masquerade,” surged forward with Prokofiev’s second violin co...
MASTERFUL PIANISM IN GOODE'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, May 05, 2017
Pianist Richard Goode programmed an evening of treasures May 5 from four great composers, and is an artist of intimacy and intelligence, power and passion, able to go deep and to soar. Hearing Mr. Goode play this literature was a reminder of how music does indeed bridge worlds and time.
Bach’s E m...
ELEGANT ORGAN SALUTE TO THE REFORMATION
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Organist Jonathan Dimmock presented an April 30 recital in homage to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, playing Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh instrument. Mr. Dimmock is the organist for the San Francisco Symphony, principal organist for the Palace of the Legion of Honor and teaches at...
NOTES AND BARS DO NOT A PRISON MAKE
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, April 29, 2017
The Hermitage Piano Trio brought exuberant musicality and sumptuous sound to a packed house April 29 in Occidental's Performing Arts Center for the last concert in the Redwood Arts Council’s 37th season. With a wide interpretive range--from lush to delicate to passionate--these three young Russian v...
SCHUMANN AND BARTOK HIGHLIGHT BRONFMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Lee Ormasa
Friday, April 21, 2017
Those people once addicted to the “Angry Birds” game application likely suffered an auditory flashback during the opening measures of the allegro
from Bartok’s Suite, Op. 14, the opening work in Yefim Bronfman’s April 21 recital at Weill Hall. The repetitive opening figures of the Bartok were...
HULKING MAHLER "TITAN" AT SO CO PHIL'S SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 08, 2017
A composer’s first symphony rarely gives a clear indication of what beautiful complexities will follow over the years. Early Mozart and Tchaikovsky are examples, and the big exceptions to this axiom are the “firsts” of Beethoven, Shostakovich and Mahler.
Tackling Mahler ‘s D Major Symphony (No. 1,...
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY STAYS CLOSE TO HOME
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Santa Rosa Symphony concerts usually feature high-powered soloists imported from afar, but for their recent “Bring on the Strings” concert set, they stuck close to home, thrusting their principal violin, viola and cello into the limelight. The violinist (Joseph Edelberg) and the violist (Elizabeth P...
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
Violinist Vadim Repin
VADIM REPIN: STARLIGHT, SHINING BRIGHT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 07, 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.]