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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...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Urioste-Brown Duo / Thursday, April 9, 2015
Elena Urioste, violin; Michael Brown, piano

E. Urioste and M. Brown April 9 in Berger Auditorium

ANGLO BRITISH MUSIC AT OAKMONT VIOLIN RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 9, 2015

In a balanced Music at Oakmont recital April 9 violinist Elena Urioste played an animated program featuring British and American composers, but with some compositional surprises.

The first came with Paul Schoenfield’s Four Souvenirs, a suite of four pieces that combined several dance forms that were at turns lighthearted and intricate, especially in the contrary motion lines of the complex final Square dance. This was snazzy music reminiscent of the composer’s popular “Café Music” and Ms. Urioste played them well, albeit with a thin tone and being covered in the Tin Pan Alley by her pianist Michael Brown.

Elgar’s Sonata in E Minor, Op. 82, concluded the first half in a performance that was well played but ultimately lacked the sweet Edwardian nostalgia under the surface of the piece. Playing from score as she did all afternoon, Ms. Urioste took a quick tempo in the opening Allegro. In remarks preceding the playing the violinist spoke to the audience of the second–movement Romance, and she played it lovingly with carefully-graded short rests and elegant scales. She caught the subtle mysticism of this section where there are elements of contemporary sonatas by Faure and Respighi.

The closing Allegro had her best playing as she dug deeper with increased tonal richness and just the right vibrato and thematic interplay with Mr. Brown. A wistful theme before the development was deftly played and introduced the Sonata’s short and strenuous coda.

The afternoon’s highlight came just after intermission – the Britten Suite, Op. 6. This is youthful Britten from 1934, far removed from the expansive music of “Peter Grimes” and the church parables initiated by “Curlew River.” In five contrasting parts the violinist moves from introductory snippets to Prokofiev-like high-register notes in the March and furious bowing in the Moto Perpetuo. This was virtuosic playing from the duo, even when in the Lullaby the violin sound emerged from a ppp level to a shimmering lament with subtle portamento and Mr. Brown’s part quietly lodged in the treble.

The final Waltz was played with rhythmic syncopation and pointillist fragments, Ms. Urioste underlining the effects of harmonic seconds, quick turns and histrionic disparities.

Mr. Brown’s own work, “Echoes of Byzantium,” followed and was an idiomatic 12-minute piece that had effective bursts of sound and alternating violin and piano chords. There was again much high-register writing and a bit of Vaughan-Williams’ “The Lark Ascending” with a long single-note fermata at the end that faded into obscurity. Mr. Brown’s playing captured in the 2006 tonal work’s piquant sonorities with liberal damper pedal and sure-footed technique.

Three Heifetz arrangements of popular Gershwin tunes closed the concert in high style, all from the opera “Porgy and Bess.” These are consummate transcriptions for the violin, loaded with double stops and nonchalant humor that captured the insouciance of Gershwin’s melodies. The best were “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” and particularly “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”

The Urioste-Brown duo played each with easy panache, to the delight of the 175 in the Berger Auditorium audience, but offered no encore.