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Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
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.