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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 Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s 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 County’s 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 Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s 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. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s 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 season’s 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 Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
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.