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Recital
HOME RECITAL BACH COMPLETES HOLIDAY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 30, 2017
The just closing 2017 year was a calamity for many, but locally in music there were joys galore, and it was fitting Dec. 30 have the balm of two Bach’s violin sonatas in a private Guerneville home recital hosted by the eminent musician Sonia Tubridy. Violinist Richard Heinberg joined Ms. Tubridy in...
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 WITH 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...
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 Beethoven’s 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 Beethoven’s chamber music writing. Particularly striking was how, in the composer’s 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. Weilerstein’s 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 Schubert’s 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 composer’s 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 pianist’s 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.