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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 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...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Green Music Center / Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Jeffrey Kahane and Natasha Paremski, piano; Andrew Shulman, cello; Margaret Batjer, violin; Aloysia Friedmann, viola

Pianist Jeffrey Kahane with Cellist Andrew Schulman June 26 in Schroeder Hall (N. Anderson Photo)

BRAWNY BRAHMS HIGHLIGHTS OPENING CHAMBERFEST PROGRAM IN SCHROEDER

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Jeffrey Kahane has done it again. After multiple Sonoma County appearances since leaving the Santa Rosa Symphony in 2006, the pianist and conductor has designed a scintillating summer concert series at Sonoma State’s Green Music Center – Chamberfest.

The first of nine concerts in a short five-day span June 24 featured a muscular program of Beethoven and Brahms, with a tiny Bach transcription as a tasty prelude. Beethoven’s early Op. 5 F Major Cello Sonata received a sparkling reading with cellist Andrew Schulman joining Mr. Kahane, the charming introductory dotted rhythm leading into buoyant Allegro. Mr. Kahane pushed the tempo with his signature high-speed (and often muddy) right hand scales. Both the cello and piano lines were dynamically and fluently presented, sometimes declamatory with quick changes of mood, and the concluding Rondo was full of zest. It felt like something already in progress, a kick-up-your-heels gypsy dance. The composer’s creativity with variation was everywhere underscored, and at several places the musicians slowed the tempo to a heartfelt simplicity and then sent the theme over the top in a wild gallop to the end.

It wasn’t a subtle performance but it was thrilling, and the cellist deftly used a small vibrato and rich tone.

In his introductory remarks to the audience reviewing the Festival’s programs, Mr. Kahane commented that the most under-rated composer is early Beethoven, and this Sonata was a prime example.

Following intermission Brahms’ early and burly G Minor Quartet, Op. 25, was played by pianist Natasha Paremski, Margaret Batjer (violin), Mr. Shulman and violist Aloysia Friedmann. If a rough-hewn Brahms performance is desired, this one was sui generis. The sprawling opening Allegro was played to highlight a dark and brooding drama, the majestic and haunting theme returning several times before ending in a whisper.

This first of Brahms’s three piano quartets is perhaps the most popular, as the concluding Rondo is so similar to the admired Hungarian Dances. In the Intermezzo the unusual coloring and delicacy of the strings was beautifully set against each other and the piano line. A passionate love song characterized the Andante where Brahms’ glowing romanticism, later to be more tightly portrayed in the C Minor Quartet of Op. 60, was captivatingly performed. There were syncopated rhythms and a lovely ascending phrase ending the movement.

In the finale the quartet tore into the sectional, dance-like structure with terrific energy and especially in the cadenza where all the themes are combined in polyphony as accurate as Bach’s and as fantastic as Liszt’s. Schroeder Hall’s sound favors big projection and Ms. Paremski’s sonority sporadically covered the strings, even with husky and fast scale passages from Ms. Batjer. The movement was played loud but never coarsely, and it’s that kind of piece.

After a standing ovation all the musicians returned to the stage and took questions from the audience. Mr. Kahane is an old hand at these kinds of sessions, and in general his commentary is witty and urbane.

Gyorgy Kurtag’s arrangement of Bach’s O Lamm Gottes Unschuldig for piano, four hands, past by without much notice save for the organ-like timbre in the instrument’s treble. Mr. Kahane played octaves and fifths to emulate this unique sound, with elegant support by Ms. Paremski in the bass.

Nicki Bell and Sonia Tubridy contributed to this review.