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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...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
RECITAL REVIEW
MasterCard Performance Series / Sunday, April 27, 2014
Hilary Hahn, violin; Cory Smythe, piano

Violinist Hilary Hahn

PRISTINE CONTROL, SUBDUED EMOTION

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hilary Hahn’s April 27 Weill Hall recital found the violinist entering the stage without her instrument, beginning ten minutes of comments about the program. She does these introductions well, and most of the audience enjoyed the discourse comparing Schubert's Fantasia for Violin with Schoenberg’s thorny Phantasy for Violin, and her recent commissioning project of 27 encore pieces.

And it was with this fresh set that she began with Welsh composer Richard Barrett’s three-minute “Shade,” a skittering tour de force of spiccato bow effects and eerie mystery. The sound had a scary edge, stopping and starting, and pianist Cory Smythe had the last word with a rich soft bottom B note.

Anton Garcia Abril’s Tres Suspiros followed, the three parts spotlighting Ms. Hahn’s superb bow control that allowed her to fashion the small thematic snippets in the first and third movements with aplomb. There is more than a little Messiaen here, and in the third movement the duo deftly played long phrase endings. The solo violin second movement had a lovely controlled pianissimo and a flavor of gypsy rhythms.

Schoenberg’s Op. 47 Phantasy was played very well, but I must admit I have never connected with it as I do with the Viennese master’s Violin Concerto. Ms. Hahn’s focus, intensity and stamina were admirable throughout this vexing work from 1949. The piano part is often furtive, and Ms. Hahn’s multiple tone skips were pristine.

Closing the first half was Mozart’s A Major Sonata, K. 305. The music fell warmly on the ear after the pesky Schoenberg. The playing struck an argumentative note in the first movement, and in the concluding variations the pianist’s subdued legato playing contrasted with the soloist’s marvelous tone, smoothly changing from dry to florid. That said, it’s one of Mozart’s least interesting sonatas, albeit well laid out for both piano and violin.

Two works comprised the second half, preceded again by Ms. Hahn’s remarks to the audience of 1,200: Telemann’s E Minor Fantasie for solo violin (TWV 40:19) and Schubert’s C Major Fantasia, D. 934. The Fantasie was played without score and was faultless in all registers. These were gallant dances with contrapuntal twists galore, a Baroque delight that made one want a Bach Partita from Ms. Hahn’s magical instrument.

In the protracted Schubert piece, Mr. Symthe was an attentive but not virtuoso pianist, playing sporadic muddy scale passages and beginning far too loudly. Here the music for both instruments needs to carefully grow from silence. A long held note in the violin led effortlessly to the rondo theme, emphasizing the long arch of rarified lyricism. In the opening slow section, Ms. Hahn used portamento rarely, but in the many repeats played them with variety: here a diminuendo, there a less forceful character or a tad less vibrato. She has a consummate and delicate pizzicato technique with at times intriguing inflections.

The 26-minute performance had a triumphant and majestic finale, each musician trading motives in a celebratory way leading to an exciting finish.

Responding to a standing ovation, the violinist played Max Richter’s “Mercy,” a threnody work that has sounds like Pärt or new-age music. But here it was mesmerizing with long decrescendos and, as always, Ms. Hahn’s subtle control of pianissimo and bow position. Slow piano chords were in the background, leaving the yearning and delicate work to a violinist at the top of her game. It was an encore that had a certain emotional impact that was lacking in the recital proper.

Violinist Mischa Hubermann contributed to this review