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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
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.