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Chamber
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
Symphony
ALEXANDER TORADZE DELIVERS A LESSON IN SERENITY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 05, 2019
An entire concerto movement consisting of serene piano melodies over a soothing backdrop is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when seeing Shostakovich’s name on an orchestra program, but that’s exactly what pianist Alexander Toradze delivered--twice--at Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony c...
Symphony
MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON CLOSES WITH AUTUMNAL ELGAR AND THEATRICAL BEETHOVEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Mozart’s enchanting Overture to his opera The Magic Flute, a miniature tapestry of gems from the 1791 work, opened the Marin Symphony’s final concert of the 2018-2019 season. Under conductor Alasdair Neale, the playing of the sprightly seven-minute piece by a reduced-size classical ensemble sparkled...
Recital
SHAHAM-EGUCHI DUO'S EXCITING MUSICAL GENEROSITY IN WEILL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, April 26, 2019
Violinist Gil Shaham may be the most modest virtuoso on the concert stage today, and it is the great music he most wishes to put forward, never himself. Generosity, a quality he is known for, was abundantly clear in Weill Hall April 26 when he performed, with pianist Akira Eguchi, a generous program...
Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
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.