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Recital
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...
Symphony
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...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Chamber
CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIRÓ IN WEILL
by Sonia Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Sunday, March 05, 2017
A March 5 Weill hall audience of 350 leaned in to share an intimate musical space and to hear the Miró String Quartet’s sterling concert. Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Miró plays with the feat of being four dist...
Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Chamber
MUSIC AND ART MELD IN ZUCKERMAN TRIO CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Friday, February 24, 2017
A Feb. 24 Weill Hall concert by the Pinchas Zuckerman Trio juxtaposed formidable music making with palpable associations about visual art. Brahms’ C Minor "Sonatensatz” (Scherzo) is a short youthful work for violin and piano, and was an opening call to action. Lively and vigorous playing alternated...
Chamber
THREE BEETHOVEN TRIOS BEGUILE AUDIENCE IN FEB. 19 WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Chamber music concerts featuring one composer can be tricky, but the Han/Setzer/Finckel trio made a Feb. 19 Weill Hall audience of 500 hear and to a degree see the boundless creativity of Beethoven. The G Major Trio, Op. 1, No. 2, opened the afternoon’s Beethoven odyssey and one wonders why it is t...
Chamber
AUTHORITATIVE BARTOK HIGHLIGHTS TETZLAFF VIOLIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Christian Tetzlaff’s Feb. 18 violin recital rolled along with lively and fresh readings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert when the specter of Bartok’s granitic Second Sonata intervened. The sonic shock to the audience of 250 in Weill was palpable. Composed in 1923 the 20-minute two-movement work i...
Symphony
WHAT SOUND DO STAR-CROSSED LOVERS MAKE?
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so the Santa Rosa Symphony feted the occasion by telling and retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet, a tale ever the more poignant during our era of stark divisions. The first telling was from Berlioz; the second from Prokofiev. In between was Brahms’ monu...
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.