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Chamber
VANHAL QUARTET AT VOM FESTIVAL DISCOVERY AT HANNA CENTER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 15, 2018
A near-capacity crowd of 220 filled the Sonoma Hanna Boys Center Auditorium July 15 for the opening concert of the fourth Valley of the Moon Music Festival. This Festival presents gems of the Classical and early Romantic periods performed on instruments of the composer’s era, which presents a few ch...
Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
RECITAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Elina Garanša, mezzo soprano. Kevin Murphy, piano

Mezzo Soprano Elina Garanca

SONG CYCLES FOR CONNOISSEURS

by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Elina Garanca’s April 9 Weill Hall recital was a connoisseur’s program, eschewing the more popular song literature and concentrating on mostly subtle and evocative works of Schumann, Berg and Richard Strauss.

With pianist Kevin Murphy, the Latvian mezzo soprano, famous from the opera stage as a sumptuous Carmen, programmed four of Schumann's Op. 25 "Myrthen" songs and the introspective and demanding cycle "Frauenliebe und -Leben," Op. 42. Beginning with “Widmung,” the Op. 25 group was delivered with quick tempos and minimal attention to warmth and color. There was artful balance in the familiar “Der Nussbaum,” with clear pianistic arpeggios, and more vocal power in “Jemand.” Mr. Murphy’s discerning pianism was always supportive and nuanced. In “Zwei Lieder der Brut” (Nos. 11 and 12), Ms. Garanca spun each of the soft-sung endings with delicate ritards.

"Frauenliebe und -Leben" is an eight-section work from 1840 setting out a woman’s love--through first contact, marriage and death--set to poems by Adelbert von Chamisso. Unlike Schubert’s song cycles with integrated piano parts, Schumann’s cycle has many stretches of independent piano parts and a lengthy postlude, here ethereally played by Mr. Murphy. There were quick transitions between sections and sporadically the singer moved to an operatic voice, filling the hall with glorious sound. “Du Ring an meinem Finger” was lovely with just the right tempo, the one big forte powerfully sung. In the final song, “Nun hast du mir den ersten Schemerz getan,” the pathos and sense of loss were palpable.

Following a change of gowns (shimmering grey to shimmering blue) Ms. Garanca also changed vocal gears with Berg’s "Seven Early Songs" from 1908. Here her voice had extra sonority and occasionally covered Mr. Murphy’s piano line. “Die Nachtigal” was performed forcefully and underscored the contrasting harmonies, and in “In Zimmer,” the piano and voice played off their contrasting lines with clipped endings. Mr. Murphy played one of his few fortissimo passages of the night in the opening of "Liebesode." Throughout, Ms. Garanca offered singing of assurance and communication, a highlight of the recital.

Six Richard Strauss songs closed the recital, and here again the singer avoided popular works in favor of the epicurean, although the well-known “Allerseelen” was included. The “All mein Gedanken” had the requisite frolicking character, and “Meinem Kinde” was captivatingly lyrical, with Mr. Murphy contributing a rippling piano part. Mr. Garanca floated a soft and high tessitura in “Leises Lied” and projected a weighty sound in the dramatic closing work, “Heimliche Aufforderung." Opera singing trumps lieder in much of Strauss.

Ms. Garanca rewarded the loud but not insistent applause of the audience of 850 with one encore, Brahms’ “Meine Liebe ist grün.” It was deftly sung, the phrasing earnest and exquisitely sculpted.