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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
Music at Oakmont / Thursday, October 17, 2013
Soheil Nasseri, piano

Pianist Soheil Nasseri

MORE WORDS THAN NOTES

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 17, 2013

Soheil Nasseri opened the 23rd Music at Oakmont season Oct. 17 in a piano recital where words from the artist nearly overwhelmed the offered music.

Choosing an all-Beethoven program, Mr. Nasseri preceded the A Major Sonata, Op. 101, with words of personal introduction and humorous anecdotes. The wonderful sonata itself, from Beethoven's last period, was played rather perfunctorily, with plodding tempos and a lack of rhythmic interest. The artist described a non-musical program for the work, but the performance never took off.

Seven more minutes of commentary from the stage preceded the G Major Sonata, Op. 31, No. 1, but here the playing became interesting, with contrasting dynamics and contrapuntal clarity. Nasseri is not a colorist, but he has a transparent sound and shapely phrasing. In the second movement, his right-hand scale passages were lucid.

After finishing the second sonata prior to intermission, Nasseri spoke to the audience in a manner unique in my history of concert going. He said he would be signing CDs by the front door and invited people to chat with him over the interval about his career.

Following intermission, Nasseri spoke again to the audience and then played Beethoven's 11 short Bagatelles from Op. 119. His playing mostly caught the intriguing character of these miniatures with quickly shifting moods. It was concise and direct playing, revealing the composer's subtle humor and small-form creativity. Number six was a jewel, with a restful introduction giving way to convincing pianistic agitation.

Before concluding the program with Beethoven's mighty C Major Sonata, Op. 53 ("Waldstein"), Nasseri asked if anyone had questions about him and his career. Three people did. The subsequent playing was in all ways adequate but small-scaled, the initial tasteless small ritards lessening the momentum of the opening Allegro con Brio. Nonetheless, Nasseri effectively continued an interpretation based on minimum pedal and middle-of-the road tempos. A small memory lapse (everything was played without score) came just before the ending. The short middle movement was performed with care and excellent balance between the hands, the overly bright top end of the piano carrying the pianissimo chords well.

Nasseri played the Rondo finale in the conventional dreamy way and took the pedal in the opening 12 bars to stress the fundamental bass notes. It was some of the best playing of the day, although orthodox throughout, with little left-hand voicing or a big sound. Nasseri did lavish more tone color in this remarkable movement, and in the famous ascending and descending octave passages, he chose a seco touch rather than glissandi.

There was no encore.