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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
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.