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Chamber
HEROIC TRUMPET AND ORGAN MUSIC AT INCARNATION
by Jerry Dibble
Friday, October 12, 2018
The strong connections between Santa Rosa’s musical community and California State University Chico were on display Oct. 12 as David Rothe, Professor Emeritus in the Chico Music Department, and Ayako Nakamura, trumpet with the North State Symphony, presented a concert titled “Heroic Music for Trumpe...
Symphony
LECCE-CHONG PROVES HIS METTLE WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 07, 2018
Francesco Lecce-Chong was handed two warhorses for his debut as conductor of the Santa Rosa Symphony, and he rode them both to thrilling victory. For the first win, Brahms’ violin concerto, he owed much to soloist Arnaud Sussman, but for the other triumph, Beethoven’s fifth symphony, he and his musi...
Chamber
THORNY BARTOK AND ELEGANT MENDELSSOHN FOR THE BRENTANO
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, September 30, 2018
In a minor masterpiece of programming choices the Brentano String Quartet played a Sept. 30 Weill Hall program with an emphasis on refinement, even with a challenging Bartok work in the mix. Dvorák’s Miniatures for Two Violins and Viola (Op. 75a) opened the concert with charm and gentle loveliness,...
Chamber
ECHO'S RICH MUSICAL TAPESTRY IN MARIN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, September 30, 2018
Marin’s Echo Chamber Orchestra unfurled a glorious tapestry of Mozart, Weber and Respighi music Sept. 30 in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church. The church, located on the grounds of San Francisco Theological Seminary, boasts a ceiling high enough for angels to fly, and its quiet setting and aco...
Recital
IDIOMATIC SCHUMANN AND BEETHOVEN HIGHTLIGHT WALKER'S CONCERTS GRAND RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 23, 2018
Mostly known as a concert producer and indefatigable promoter of Sonoma County music, pianist Judy Walker stepped into the soloist’s role Sept. 23 in a sold out recital for the Concerts Grand House recitals series. Two Scarlatti Sonatas, in D Minor (K. 213) and D Major (K. 29), began the hour-long ...
Symphony
SAKAKEENY'S LION AND ROSE HIGHLIGHTS SO CO PHIL'S 20TH SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 22, 2018
Fresh from a triumphant tour in Latin America the Sonoma County Philharmonic opened its 20th season Sept. 22 in a celebratory concert in the Santa Rosa High School Auditorium. Keeping to the evening’s orchestra history and past performance, conductor emeritus Gabriel Sakakeeny, who led the So Co Ph...
Recital
DEDIK'S POTENT BEETHOVEN AND CHOPIN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Monday, September 17, 2018
Anastasia Dedik returned Sept. 17 to the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series in a recital that featured three familiar virtuoso works in potent interpretations. Chopin’s G Minor Ballade hasn’t been heard in Sonoma County public concerts since a long-ago Earl Wild performance, and Beethoven’s...
Recital
DUO WEST OPENS OCCIDENTAL CONCERT SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 09, 2018
Before a full house at the Occidental Performing Arts Center Sept. 9 the cello-piano Duo West, playing from score throughout, presented a recital that on paper looked stimulating and thoughtful. Beginning with MacDowell’s To A Wild Rose (from Woodland Sketches, Op. 51), the transcription by an unan...
Chamber
CELLO-PIANO DUO IN HUSKY SPRING LAKE VILLAGE PROGRAM
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, September 05, 2018
Two thirds of the way through a stimulating 22-concert season the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series Sept. 5 presented two splendid cello sonatas before 110 people in the Village’s Montgomery auditorium. A duo for more than a decade, East Bay musicians cellist Monica Scott and pianist Hadle...
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...
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.