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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...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Friday, May 01, 2015
Nobuyuki Tsujii, piano

Pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii

MOUNT TSUJII ERUPTS AT THE GREEN MUSIC CENTER

by Nicki Bell
Friday, May 01, 2015

A great painter changes the way we see and understand the world. The extraordinary Nobuyuki Tsujii, a 25-year-old Japanese pianist blind since birth, changes the way we hear music. He has a transformative power. Formidable technique, a staggering mastery of pianistic and tonal color, surprising tempo surges and lingerings, intense musicality--all these phrases hardly begin to describe the uniqueness of his musical voice and the thrilling nature of his performances, including the one at the Green Music Center on Friday evening, May 1, which featured gems by Chopin, Liszt and Beethoven.

Tsujii pulled the audience into his world with the opening notes of Chopin's Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 1. The whisper of pianissimos, the quick surges of intensity, the extreme and instantaneous dynamic shifts--they all made perfect musical sense. The subsequent Nocturne (Op. 9, No. 2) had moments of such limpid quietude that the full house seemed to stop breathing so as not to lose a moment of the magic. Tsujii's concentration is extreme. With his isolation from visual distraction and the focused attention of his listening, the clarity of his playing is thrilling.

With his formidable technique, Tsujii brought moments of ecstasy to Chopin's late Barcarolle in F-sharp major. His exquisite trills were a blur of sound, just a vibration. Using his left hand as an engine, he displayed phenomenal power in the driving middle section.

The Consolation No. 3, written by a grieving Franz Liszt after Chopin's death, was exquisite. Liszt's Mephisto Waltz No. 1, "The Dance in the Village Inn," had the devil in it, every extreme, from playing as fast as humanly possible to blessed quietude and back to staggering passion. Tsujii conveyed the colors and fullness of sound of a complete orchestra. He literally filled the hall, and the audience went crazy.

After intermission, Tsujii started Beethoven's "Pathetique" Sonata so slowly, so quietly, so daringly that you could not anticipate the speed, even though you knew what was coming. No matter how often you have heard this sonata--and it is often played--it becomes a new world in this young master's hands. So too with Beethoven's "Appassionata" Sonata, a huge work with mountains of difficulty, one of the composer's most violent and passionate creations. In Tsujii's hands, the tonal and emotional contrasts of the three movements kept building and building all the way to the thrilling conclusion.

The audience did not want to let Tsujii go, so he played three encores. The first was his own rendition of Stephen Foster's "I Dream of Jeanie," the second his own sweetly lyrical song, and the third a magnificent rendition of Liszt's "La Campanella." The only way for Tsujii to leave the stage was to close the lid of the piano's keyboard.