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Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
RECITAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Friday, June 26, 2015
Natasha Paremski, piano; Malcolm Matthews, organ

Pianist Natasha Paremski

INTREPID VIRTUOSITY IN PAREMSKI'S BRAHMS VARIATIONS

by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 26, 2015

Sonoma County organist James Harrod contributed the organ work analysis in this review.

Pianist Natasha Paremski had the stellar role June 26 in the third Chamberfest program in Schroeder Hall, beginning with Beethoven’s A Flat Sonata, Op. 110. Classical Sonoma was unable to review the Sonata’s performance, said by many in the packed hall to be seminal and inspiring.

Following the Beethoven, organist Malcolm Matthews played three variations of the German Advent hymn “Now Comes the Savior of the Nations” (Nun komm der Heiden Heiland) by Bach on the Schroeder Hall Brombaugh tracker organ.

Mr. Matthews first played the hymn itself, quietly, with the melody sounding on the throaty Krummhorn reed stop of the Rückpositiv. Second, he played the familiar choral variation from “The Little Organ Book” (Das Orgelbüchlein), BWV 599. Last, he performed a far more intricate choral prelude on the same theme from the “18 Great Chorale Preludes,” BWV 661. In this variation, alternating motives are played with the hands on the great manual (Hauptwerk) while the melody is played with the feet using the powerful reed of the pedal division. Mr. Matthews performed each of these settings smoothly and serenely, suggesting intimate friendship with the music and with a clear, but subtle Baroque articulated touch. It was very nicely done.

Not to be outdone by an organist, Ms. Paremski played the Bach-Busoni version of Nun komm der Heiden Heiland later in the program. This was played reverently and sensitively and was very satisfying to hear.

Also performed was an unusual arrangement for piano and organ of three familiar choral preludes from Brahms’ “Eleven Chorale Preludes for the Organ,” Op. 122. The music was divided into fragments in dialogue between the two instruments, almost a “question and answer” format with a postlude character. The result had some lovely moments but not a lasting effect. A video camera and screen in the organ loft depicted the organist’s hands at the two-manual instrument.

Concluding the afternoon and clearly the concert’s highlight was Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, Op. 24. Written in 1862, the Handel Variations (along with sets by Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Reger’s Bach and Telemann Variations) is the greatest work of the type in the repertoire.

Natasha Paremski has made significant changes in her playing since her last Sonoma County appearance in 2012. Still present are the easy virtuosity, big tone and often insouciant in platform manner, but she has added greater control of a large work’s structure and a bevy of interesting inner voices. The pianist began with long trills in the theme and played in a subdued manner until the second Variation, the first time in the piece that it sounds like Brahms. Variation contrast was abundant, and Ms. Paremski underscored this not only by dynamic contrast but also by either slight pauses between the variations or deftly connecting them with the damper pedal in an enharmonic modulation.

As each Variation unfolded Ms. Paremski adopted various touches that gave individuality, even with continual booming sforzandos and in Variation 25 a tempo that almost pushed the music off the rails. Almost. She did not double the left hand B-Flat octave before beginning the fugue, heard in the great recordings of Petri and Solomon. The famous 108-bar fugue was played majestically, intermingling fugal and developmental techniques to produce a weighty resonance, aided by the piano’s massive sonority in the small Schroeder Hall’s acoustically impeccable space.

The performance was easily the finest North Bay Brahms-Handel in memory, and drew a roaring ovation that brought the artist to the front of the stage, holding her right hand to her heart in acknowledgement of the acclaim.