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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 ...
Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Recital
PIANISTIC COMMAND IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, October 08, 2017
Nikolay Khozyainov’s Oct. 8 debut at the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall was one of those rare moments in a young artist’s career when a performance approaches perfection. From the opening notes of Beethoven’s A-Flat Major Sonata (Op. 110) through a delightful recital ending transcription, the ...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Santa Rosa Symphony / Sunday, October 06, 2013
Bruno Ferrandis, conductor. Tedi Papavrami, violin

Violinist Tedi Paparvrami

FOUR-SQUARE AND FORMIDABLE

by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 06, 2013

Perhaps the four syllables of Dmitri Shostakovich's last name are what inspired him to write so many works in four movements, with a predilection for 4/4 time. Two of those works were on sonic display Oct. 6 at the Santa Rosa Symphony's opening concert set: his Symphony No. 5, with the customary four movements, and his violin concerto, with an unusual four instead of the standard three. The contents of these works are mostly four-square, both rhythmically and melodically, as exemplified by the four-note theme in the concerto that spells out the composer's abbreviated name.

What this abundance of fours does is to make for satisfying, crowd-pleasing music that runs the gamut of human emotions within a well-defined frame. The performance in this case was exceptional, with stupendous work from violin soloist Tedi Papavrami and inspired playing by the orchestra under Music Director Bruno Ferrandis.

Papavrami is an ideal candidate for the four-loving, quadraphilic Shostakovich. Clad entirely in black, with a dead-serious expression at all times, he resembles a boxer negotiating a four-square ring. His customary stance--knees bent, feet shoulder-width apart, hands up, ready to punch--is the essence of pugilism. Undeterred by the laws of physics governing human fingers, he delivers nothing but knockouts.

Playing a modern violin by the Lisbon-based Christian Bayon, Papavrami filled Weill Hall to overflowing with lush, liquid sound. The languorous opening movement of the concerto--a Nocturne--was a perfect foil for his gorgeous tone and lapidary technique. Every aspect of his playing was well controlled, from the vibrato to the double stops to the razor-sharp intonation in the upper registers. As the Nocturne progressed, the sound became shimmering and iridescent, hovering over the audience like a gentle rain.

Shattering the calm, Papavrami drove relentlessly into the Scherzo second movement, holding his own in a series of intimidating syncopations, and striking chords with machine-like precision. The orchestra kept pace, ending with a dramatic crescendo. The third frame--a Passacaglia--was both stately and majestic, punctuated by occasional blasts from the tuba. The pacing evoked a long march over a challenging landscape, and toward the end Papavrami's lower strings really began to resonate. This led to a long cadenza marked by complete silence in the hall as Papavrami coaxed more and more sound out of his instrument, featuring (what else?) four-note clusters followed by full chords and lightning runs.

Papavrami could have retired from the ring after the cadenza, but he went one more round with the final Burlesque, displaying incredible energy as he dashed off its many virtuosic passages. The ovation at the end was instantaneous and sustained, but sadly did not lead to a solo encore.

An encore of sorts did arrive in the second half, as the orchestra trotted out to play more Shostakovich, this time his popular Symphony No. 5. This modern masterpiece is definitely a Fifth Symphony, with a clear nod to Beethoven in the opening phrase. The strings had a particularly clean sound, with remarkable unanimity and a full, rich bass. The image of the march emerged once again in the opening movement, reinforced by the percussion, a gradual acceleration, and then a heroic unison that found Ferrandis jumping up and down on the podium. Turning on a dime, the orchestra ended tenderly, with a wonderful solo from concertmaster Joseph Edelberg.

The Allegretto second movement is one of Shostakovich's best-known works, and its dancing 3/4 rhythm stands in stark contrast to the rest of the symphony. Ferrandis responded well to the change in mood, evoking a lilting pace with restrained motions. The mood changed once again with the ensuing Largo, perhaps the most heartfelt music of the afternoon. The oboe solo over violin tremolo was outstanding, and the feeling projected throughout the movement was sublime, sustained all the way to the final resolving chord.

The exact opposite prevailed in the concluding Allegro. The trumpets blared out the rollicking theme, and then controlled mayhem ensued, with the orchestra regularly rising to triple forte. Timpanist Andrew Lewis was particularly fun to watch, as he held his mallets gleefully in the air, preparing for the next thundering descent. An authoritative boom from the bass drum brought the proceedings to a close.

Lest the reader think that the Santa Rosa Symphony plays only Shostakovich, the concert did begin with John Adams' iconic "Short Ride in a Fast Machine," now almost 30 years old. This too was four-square in its fashion, actually more four-geared, as the orchestra shifted rapidly from one layer of sound to the next. This thrilling piece, which helped bring Minimalism into the mainstream, sounds somewhat tame these days, prompting the elderly patron next to me to remark to her companion, "I actually sort of liked it."