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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...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
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 REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Festival Orchestra, conducted from the piano by Stephen Prutsman. Susan Waterfall, narrator.

Pianist and Conductor Stephen Prutsman

A MUSIC OFFERING IN A SONIC MIXTURE

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bach’s iconic D Minor Clavier Concerto was the centerpiece in the fourth day of Mendocino Music Festival events July 16 in the big tent concert hall, with San Francisco-based Stephen Prutsman the featured artist.

Conducting a chamber orchestra of ten from a lidless piano, Mr. Prutsman took fast tempos and a muscular approach throughout, eschewing subtlety in favor of driving rhythms and dramatic contrasts.
His approach to this contrapuntal masterpiece featured some novel trills with speedy conclusions, pedal point and a detache touch in scale passages, all well suited to this music. It was not Bach to everyone’s taste but elicited loud applause from the 400 people in the hall.

The small orchestra, composed of five violins, two violas, two cellos and bass, managed the speedy pace well. The Adagio movement was captivating.

Mention should be made of the amplification that produced far too much volume and generated a piano tone that was brittle and lacking color. Resident technicians say amplification is required as the tent (and audience) smothers reverberation. The downsides are a lack of spatial presence for the instruments and unnatural string color and overtones. Given the physical condition of a large tent concert space there presumably is not an alternative to the electronic enhancement.

The concert began with Festival co-director Susan Waterfall’s erudite descriptions from the podium of the 1647 genesis of Bach’s “Musical Offering,” BWV 1079. This set 16 short movements is based on a flute theme of Prussian monarch Frederick the Great. In four initial canons Ms. Waterfall provided continuo at the piano and was joined by flutist Mindy Rosenfeld, violinist Jeremy Cohen and cellist Burke Schuchmann.

Bach’s stately C Minor Trio Sonata followed, a four-movement work that showcased Ms. Rosenfeld’s elegant and nimble virtuosity and the sonic support of Mr. Schuchmann’s robust cello vibrato. The tempos here were judicious, allowing the interwoven instrumental lines to be heard clearly. This ideceptively complex Baroque music was rendered convincingly for connoisseurs and those new to Bach’s late compositions.