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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital itís easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handelís seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if itís the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcellís Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the schoolís Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossiniís ďWilliam TellĒ overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonicís Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
RECITAL REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Sunday, April 26, 2015
Alisa Weilerstein, cello; Inon Barnatan, piano

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein

WEILERSTEIN-BARNATAN DUO IN WEILL - REVIEW ONE

by Joel Cohen
Sunday, April 26, 2015

The MasterCard Performance Series in Weill Hall featured an April 26 recital by cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan.

In Beethovenís substantial D Major sonata, Op.102, No. 2, the duo were clearly at ease with both the technical demands of the writing and with each other. They showed a lovely rapport in all the give-and-take between the instruments that is such an important part of Beethovenís chamber music writing. Particularly striking was how, in the composerís sudden dynamic changes, not only the volume, but the character of their playing changed distinctly. This carried over as the second movement began in its distant, timeless opening half-note chords. Their rendition was quite touching without being overly sentimental or exaggerated.

Mr. Barnatan had an elegant touch and, although the acoustics of Weill Hall are at best dubious for small chamber music and string instruments, it never overpowered Ms. Weilersteinís sound. She did have a propensity to play quite a bit in a pianissimo lontano, given the fact that for her clearly fine cello the room is excessively live and diffuse. The fugal third movement of the Beethoven was lovely and conversational, dramatic as called for but never losing that joyous interplay that makes this movement and piece compelling and a standard in the cello repertoire.

Following the Beethoven was Schubertís C Major Fantasie, D. 934, a work originally written for violin and piano and played with aplomb by Ms Weilerstein. This is a wonderful example of Schubert at his mature best (if any composer dying before his 32nd birthday can have reached musical maturity!). It is considered virtuosic for both violin and piano, and doubly so for the part played on the cello. Her command of the instrument was stunning, with massively difficult passages being played with verve and confidence. The end of the Fantasie was met with an immediate standing ovation from the audience.

After intermission the duo played music of the young Philadelphia composer Joseph Hallman, named by NPR one of the top composers under age 40. DreamLog was written for Ms. Weilerstein and Mr. Barnatan as a series of the composerís dreams, some with descriptive titles such as Stellar Vision and Poulenc/Picasso vs. Shostakovitch/Kandinsky. It was helpful that they talked about the piece before playing, and of how many of these sections were random, so each time it was performed it would sound different. Those with titles seemed appropriate to their inspirations. They performed four of the eleven movements.

The duo closed the program with the G minor Sonata, Op.19, by Rachmaninoff. This large, four-movement work was written immediately after the successful 1901second piano concerto. It is full of the romantic drama and rich melodies that are a trademark of Rachmaninoff. Ms. Weilerstein and Mr. Barnatan easily rose to the occasion. The performance was completely convincing and the audience rose to their feet as one to acknowledge that fact. Although brought back to the stage twice by continued applause, there was no encore.

The audience was exceptionally appreciative but their modest numbers made the Weill seem cavernous. Schroeder Hall would have been a better location where the cellist could match her sonority with the pianistís sound. As it was, Mr. Barnatan did a commendable job of sounding authoritative and dramatic without unduly covering Ms. Weilerstein.

This was a virtuosic collaborative duo, well worth seeking out the next time they come to Northern California.