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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...
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.