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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
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.