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Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
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.