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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
RECITAL REVIEW
Dominican University of California Guest Concert Series / Sunday, November 09, 2014
Kevin Kenner, piano

Pianist Kevin Kenner

ROBUST PLAYING IN KENNER'S ANGELICO HALL DEBUT RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 09, 2014

Europe-based Kevin Kenner chose a husky program for his Marin debut recital Nov. 9 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall, and elected three masterpieces from the Romantic piano literature.

Schubert’s C Major “Wanderer” Fantasy has nearly disappeared from recital programs, but it was a deft opening selection. It’s a work of momentum and drama throughout, and Mr. Kenner surprisingly was in no hurry in most of the earlier sections, using lots of damper pedal and emphasizing rumbling left-hand phrases. This changed just before the beginning of the fugue, when the playing had a faster tempo and moved to a grandiose, orchestral style. In the accelerando leading to the last part, the music almost went off the rails, but Mr. Kenner’s octave technique never failed him.

Liszt’s Ballade in B Minor followed, a work not popular with audiences but widely loved by pianists. Mr. Kenner played it well, with the requisite rhetoric and imagination. His pedaling sustained chords while the always moving accompaniment was clear, and Liszt’s novel harmonies (for 1853) were underscored. Mr. Kenner doubled some bass chords that used the house piano’s extra notes below the normal bottom “a”, creating a rich resonance. It was a compelling performance in the grand manner and the highlight of the afternoon.

Chopin’s Preludes from Op. 28 comprised the entire second half and here again the artist favored slower tempos, notwithstanding the fleet Preludes in G (No. 3) and B Flat (No. 16). The playing was most persuasive in the pieces that needed his sensitive touch and phrases of melancholy and even lassitude.

Mr. Kenner’s view of these 24 short gems is a modern one, meaning there is a focus on control and internal architecture and the absence of voice leading, generous rubatos and the vocal nature of Chopin’s genius. Some of the lyrical Preludes (Nos. 9, 11, 13, 17 and 19) were played with a lovely tone but lacked the poetic repose and grace possessed by the greatest Chopin pianists. The massive and majestic C Minor Prelude (No. 20) had just the right restlessness, finally dissolving to a tranquil calm.

Completing the program was the angry and defiant Prelude in D, and the pianist’s left-hand rotational command was impressive. The damper pedal was held through the final triumphant and hugely resonant D’s.

The audience of 100 demanded an encore and the pianist complied with a coarse and overly loud performance of Paderewski’s sparkling salon piece, the Caprice à la Scarlatti, Op. 14, No. 3.