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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosaís Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San Josť, Costa Ricaís capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious†building†that is one of Sonoma Countyís loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.† Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hallís residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLERíS FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the universityís stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the universityís Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. SaŽnsí majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec lí...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago ďGolden EraĒ of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didnít play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuberís work to the publicís attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the seasonís final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopolís Community Church, as the performers...
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.