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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
Symphony
PEACE AND LOVE FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Before the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 4 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” Symphony CEO Alan Silow took a moment to acknowledge the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and to observe that music offers a more peaceful and loving view of the world. Mr. ...
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.