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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 it’s 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 Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s 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 Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s 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 Rossini’s “William Tell” 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 Philharmonic’s 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

Pianist Inon Barnatan

WEILERSTEIN-BARNATAN DUO IN WEILL - REVIEW TWO

by Robert Hayden
Sunday, April 26, 2015

This was one of those concerts which far exceeded my expectations. I have heard Alisa Weilerstein several times before, as a colleague in concerts with Jeffrey Kahane, but she has matured and is certainly now one of America’s pre-eminent cellists.

Playing before a sadly half empty Weill Hall audience the cellist and pianist Inon Barnatan opened with Beethoven’s Sonata No.5, and announced the work with an electrifying set of phrases from the piano. It spoke to the audience saying, “This is not going to be an ordinary Beethoven performance.” When Ms. Weilerstein joined with her rich toned cello voice, an augury of what lay ahead was apparent.

Using an iPad on the piano’s music desk, the pianist displayed a brilliant technique and remarkable dynamic range throughout the program. His singing tone was a perfect match to Ms. Weilerstein’s romantic approach to every phrase, both ranging from pppp to fff.  In the Adagio movement listeners seemed to lean forward in their seats: “Is she still making sound?”. But the bow was still moving.

The second work in the program was unusual and new to the cello repertoire—a transcription of the Schubert Fantasie in C Major, D. 934, originally for violin and piano.  Superbly conceived and an absolute delight to hear, the transcription was done by the two performers. Its six movements blossomed out as the best of the composer’s always charming work, opening with a barely heard Andante and proceeding through a bouncy Allegretto, and ending with a Presto filled with fanciful variations that brought out Mr. Barnatan’s ability to play long tremolos with both hands very softly but perfectly.

After intermission the Duo played four movements of a thankfully short work by Joseph Hallman, entitled "Dream Log,” that was interesting, and I say this non-pejoratively. A microphone placed in front of the pianist carried the sound of heavy breathing, written into the score to produce an occasional pant.

The concert concluded with a passionate performance of the Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata that perfectly suited to the cellist and pianist. Throughout the sonata Ms. Weilerstein displayed elegant tone, and there was never a line in the score, nor a phrase, in which both the outer and inner melodies did not flow dynamically. Of course this work abounds with beautiful lines that are reminiscent of the best tunes of Rachmaninoff’s piano concertos, and the cellist made the most of them. The last movement was positively triumphant, ringing through the hall and evoking a standing ovation from an enthusiastic audience.