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Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
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 ŕ la Scarlatti, Op. 14, No. 3.