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Chamber
EXTRAVAGANT FUSION OF STYLES AT CHRIS BOTTI BAND WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Jerry Dibble
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Trumpeter Chris Botti still performs in jazz venues including SF Jazz and The Blue Note, but now appears mostly in cavernous halls or on outdoor stages like the Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center. He brought his unique road show to the packed Weill Hall August 12 in a concert of effusive e...
Chamber
SCHUBERT "MIT SCHLAG" AT VOM FESTIVAL MORNING CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
The spirit of 19th century Vienna was present July 29 on the final day of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival in the second half of July glittered with innovative programming and the new, old sound of original instruments played by musicians who love music with historic instruments. ...
Chamber
PASSIONATE BRAHMS-SCHOENBERG MUSIC CLOSES VOM FESTIVAL SUMMER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
An extraordinary program of chamber music by Brahms and Schoenberg attracted a capacity crowd to the Valley of the Moon Music Festival’s final concert July 29th in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. It opened with a richly expressive reading by Festival Laureate violinist Rachell Wong and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur...
Chamber
PRAGUE AND VIENNA PALACE GEMS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 28, 2018
The remarkable Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented a concert called “Kinsky Palace” July 28 on their final Festival weekend in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. Two well-known treasures and one lesser gem were programmed. Starting the afternoon offerings were violinist Monica Huggett and Fest...
Chamber
INNOVATIVE CHAMBER WORKS IN HANNA CENTER CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, July 22, 2018
The Valley of the Moon Music Festival presented a July 22 concert featuring three giants: Haydn, Schubert and Schumann, composers who altered music of their time with creative innovations and artistic vision. In the fourth season the Festival’s theme this year is “Vienna in Transition”, and VOM Fes...
Chamber
VIENNA INSPIRATION FOR VOM FESTIVAL PROGRAM AT HANNA CENTER
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, July 21, 2018
A music-loving audience filled Sonoma’s Hanna Center Auditorium July 21 to begin a record weekend of three concerts, produced by the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival’s theme this summer is “Venice in Transition – From the Enlightenment to the Dawn of Modernism” Prior to Saturday’s m...
Chamber
VANHAL QUARTET AT VOM FESTIVAL DISCOVERY AT HANNA CENTER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 15, 2018
A near-capacity crowd of 220 filled the Sonoma Hanna Boys Center Auditorium July 15 for the opening concert of the fourth Valley of the Moon Music Festival. This Festival presents gems of the Classical and early Romantic periods performed on instruments of the composer’s era, which presents a few ch...
Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
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...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Friday, May 08, 2015
Jeffrey Kahane, piano

Pianist Jeffrey Kahane

REFRESHMENT FOR OUR SPIRITS

by Sonia Tubridy
Friday, May 08, 2015

On Friday, May 8, Jeffrey Kahane delivered a tour-de-force piano recital at Weill Hall. The program consisted two great sets of variations for piano, Bach's brilliant Goldberg Variations and Beethoven's Opus 109 Sonata, whose third movement offers transcendent variations on a simple theme.

Kahane opened the recital with an impassioned reading of the Beethoven sonata. His performance was fast and full of fire, with moments of deep lyricism and the appearance of many surprising inner voices. The driving and startling prestissimo second movement led to the heart of the sonata, the theme and variations of the third movement, which is marked: "Songlike with greatest inwardness of feeling." The chorale-like theme is continuously transformed by the six variations, culminating in a glorious trill section that spins into new worlds of ecstatic imagination before dying back down to the original song and its simple humanity. In Beethoven's words: "Before my departure for the Elysian fields I must leave behind me what the Eternal Spirit has infused into my soul and bids me complete." Kahane gave us a glimpse of the beauty of that world and what lies beyond and within.

After intermission, the audience returned for the monumental and unequaled Goldberg Variations. In 1741, an insomniac Russian ambassador to Saxony, Count Keyserlingk, asked if Bach could write some “smooth and somewhat lively” pieces for his harpsichordist Johann Goldberg to play so the count “might be a little cheered up by them in his sleepless nights," according to Bach’s biographer Johann Forkel. What a humble origin for one of the greatest musical achievements in existence!

The opening Aria, a Sarabande, slow in triple meter, was lovely in its subtle timings and voicing, by turns simple, unassuming, highly ornamented and graceful. The bass and harmony line connect the following variations, much in the manner of a Chaconne. A desire for order and the logic of numbers governs the form of this work in multiple and overlapping ways. The variations are in groups of three, with the third variation being a canon progressively on the next larger interval (from unison to a ninth) as we move through the piece. Bach explores the many possibilities of complex polyphonic techniques; variations based on Baroque dances; feats of keyboard technique; and harmonic and rhythmic inventiveness. The last variation interweaves several German folksongs, one of which is about cabbage and turnips.

Kahane's playing was enthralling. It had great liveliness, speed and charisma, and also color and delightful keyboard gymnastics. He was master and friend of his instrument, able to use all a piano can offer, from cascades of joyous sounds to heartbreaking poignancy. The musical journey was enriched by awareness and glimpses of the connection between Bach and Beethoven. Kahane revealed himself as an artist of great intelligence and dazzling technique. In the words inscribed on the first edition of the Goldberg Variations, he offered "refreshment for the spirit." The audience emerged renewed and grateful.