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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
RECITAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Sunday, April 21, 2013
Tara Erraught, mezzo soprano. Marelo Amaral, piano.

Mezzo Soprano Tara Erraught

MESMERIZING IRISH MEZZO TELLS STORIES IN WEILL SONG RECITAL

by Vaida Falconbridge
Sunday, April 21, 2013

There were stories of fiery gypsies, dances, kisses, deep angst, unrequited love, mermaids, and headstrong young maidens. Irish-born mezzo soprano Tara Erraught told her Weill Hall audience April 21 in her lilting Irish brogue, “People ask why I pick the programs the way I do. Well, being from Ireland, one has to be a storyteller. So I’ve chosen these songs because I love these stories!” And tell them convincingly she did, with a stunning vocal instrument, wonderfully animated facial expressions, sparkling eyes, beaming smiles, and total commitment to the text.

Dvorak is best known for his symphonic works and concerti, but he wrote songs with piano throughout his life. Although some were composed in German, because of his nationalistic bent he generally preferred Czech folk lyrics and rustic Slavic poetry. His Vier Lieder, or Four Songs (Op. 82) opened the program and was a homage to Schubert.

The songs were varied in mood and tempo, offering a mostly positive first impression of Ms. Erraught’s artistry, tonal palette, and diction. She has an exciting and excellent top, but the low range not as substantial as expected for a mezzo, at least in this group (the Rossini and Handel later in the program were very well-balanced), and she has great facility and ease with the German language. This was more than confirmed with the outstanding Brahms “Gypsy Songs” and Wolf “Morike Lieder” later in the program.

Mostly remembered for his Roman tone poems, songs by Respighi are not often heard on recitals, although he wrote beautifully for the voice and was married to the singer Elsa Olivieri-Sangiacomo. Of the three Respighi selections performed by Ms. Erraught, “Nebbie” (Fog) is probably the best known, due to the highly memorable and haunting descending/ascending melodic pattern. It was elegantly sung.

The first half ended with Brahms’ “Gypsy Songs.” Op 103. With 11 songs in the set, they were originally written in 1887-1888 for a quartet of voices and piano; Brahms arranged Nos. 1 to 7 and 11 for solo voice and piano in 1889, and these eight were sung by Ms. Erraught with brilliance of tone, vibrant shimmering high notes, and exciting dynamic contrasts.

Coming back for the second half wearing a royal blue Grecian-style gown, Ms. Erraught sang six of Wolf’s “Morike Lieder.” Wolf, whose greatest musical influence was Wagner, was best known for his lieder, and his temperament and sensitive poetic discernment lead him to more intimate and subjective musical forms. Again, in singing a group with wide demands in terms of range, color and dynamics, I heard in Ms. Erraught an accomplished, elegant, tasteful, and perceptive performer. One minor quibble: in some slower and soft passages the “oh” and “ah” vowels were at times too far back, resulting in a slightly throaty spread quality that affected the vibrato on the sustained last notes of certain phrases and thus lost intensity in her portrayal of the text .

Saving the best for last in Handel and Rossini arias the singer, as they say, knocked it out of the park. “Dopo notte,” from Ariodante, could not have been a bigger contrast from the Wolf miniatures. With jaw-dropping agility and speed, loads of clean, accurate trills, impressive evenness of scale from top to bottom (and back up again and again and again), it was a total showpiece. “Lascia ch’io pianga” from Rinaldo featured a lovely legato and a nicely-ornamented da capo section.

“Una voce poco fa” from Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia is sometimes considered a ‘warhorse,’ but it’s always an aria where a singer can prove her bonafides and bid to be added to the list of greats who have gone before. There’s no doubt, Tara Erraught is fast. Furiously fast. Think Cecilia Bartoli-fast. At that point, the audience was more than ready to express their appreciation with a standing ovation, which earned them the pleasure of two encores.

“It would be wrong to come all the way from Ireland and not sing ‘Danny Boy,’ “ she told us, and then sang it so poignantly and gorgeously you could have heard the proverbial pin drop in the hall. The second encore was yet another barnburner, “Non piu mesta” from Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella), with two-octave-plus runs and trills galore at breakneck speed, again performed fearlessly and flawlessly.

It would also be wrong not to acknowledge the superb pianist Jonathan Ware in his first collaboration with Ms. Erraught. She shared from the stage, “We’ve had a ball in rehearsals, so I hope that’s coming through this afternoon.” It did indeed.