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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 ...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Urioste-Brown Duo / Thursday, April 09, 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 09, 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.