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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

Pianist Kevin Kenner

ROBUST PLAYING IN KENNER'S ANGELICO HALL DEBUT RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 9, 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.