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Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
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.