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Chamber
EXTRAVAGANT FUSION OF STYLES AT CHRIS BOTTI BAND WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Jerry Dibble
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Trumpeter Chris Botti still performs in jazz venues including SF Jazz and The Blue Note, but now appears mostly in cavernous halls or on outdoor stages like the Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center. He brought his unique road show to the packed Weill Hall August 12 in a concert of effusive e...
Chamber
SCHUBERT "MIT SCHLAG" AT VOM FESTIVAL MORNING CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
The spirit of 19th century Vienna was present July 29 on the final day of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival in the second half of July glittered with innovative programming and the new, old sound of original instruments played by musicians who love music with historic instruments. ...
Chamber
PASSIONATE BRAHMS-SCHOENBERG MUSIC CLOSES VOM FESTIVAL SUMMER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 29, 2018
An extraordinary program of chamber music by Brahms and Schoenberg attracted a capacity crowd to the Valley of the Moon Music Festival’s final concert July 29th in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. It opened with a richly expressive reading by Festival Laureate violinist Rachell Wong and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur...
Chamber
PRAGUE AND VIENNA PALACE GEMS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 28, 2018
The remarkable Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented a concert called “Kinsky Palace” July 28 on their final Festival weekend in Sonoma’s Hanna Center. Two well-known treasures and one lesser gem were programmed. Starting the afternoon offerings were violinist Monica Huggett and Fest...
Chamber
INNOVATIVE CHAMBER WORKS IN HANNA CENTER CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, July 22, 2018
The Valley of the Moon Music Festival presented a July 22 concert featuring three giants: Haydn, Schubert and Schumann, composers who altered music of their time with creative innovations and artistic vision. In the fourth season the Festival’s theme this year is “Vienna in Transition”, and VOM Fes...
Chamber
VIENNA INSPIRATION FOR VOM FESTIVAL PROGRAM AT HANNA CENTER
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, July 21, 2018
A music-loving audience filled Sonoma’s Hanna Center Auditorium July 21 to begin a record weekend of three concerts, produced by the Valley of the Moon Music Festival. The Festival’s theme this summer is “Venice in Transition – From the Enlightenment to the Dawn of Modernism” Prior to Saturday’s m...
Chamber
VANHAL QUARTET AT VOM FESTIVAL DISCOVERY AT HANNA CENTER
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 15, 2018
A near-capacity crowd of 220 filled the Sonoma Hanna Boys Center Auditorium July 15 for the opening concert of the fourth Valley of the Moon Music Festival. This Festival presents gems of the Classical and early Romantic periods performed on instruments of the composer’s era, which presents a few ch...
Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
RECITAL REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Saturday, October 17, 2015
Joshua Bell, violin; Sam Haywood, piano

Sam Haywood and Joshua Bell Playing Faure in Weill Hall (K. Loken Photo)

ENCHANTMENT, REVOLUTION AND NOSTALGIA IN BELL'S WEILL HALL RECITAL

by Sonia Morse Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Saturday, October 17, 2015

Violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Sam Haywood played a dazzling concert of sonatas and duos Oct. 17 to a joyfully rapt audience of 1,000 in Weill Hall, and the program showcased two popular A Major sonatas for violin and piano, Beethoven's Op. 47 (“Kreutzer”), and Faure's No. 1, Op. 13.

These were preceded by the Vitali’s Chaconne in G minor, a Baroque virtuoso piece that might be an example of a 19th century hoax. The work gave Mr. Bell dozens of flights of technical and musical virtuosity, and the artist’s extraordinary warm and captivating tone filled the hall in every dynamic range. He exhibited a wonderful range of mastery, moving with ease from delicate to powerful, limpid to muscular, achingly yearning to noble and proud. Rubatos were plentiful and phrases shaped with impetuous urgency or lingering tenderness. The palate of sound colors was ready for the evening ahead. Bell played the Chaconne by memory and was supported beautifully by Mr. Haywood. The audience gave them a standing ovation.

The artists moved directly to the famous Kreutzer, a watershed composition in Beethoven's life and in the history of violin music. The new monumental sounds of symphonies, operas and oratorios are here given to the small ensemble of violin/piano and the sonata is no longer a salon entertainment, but a revolutionary musical statement. The first movement opens with a solo violin statement which was played with soft intimate expression and then becomes a dialogue with the piano, trading a half step motive back and forth. The stillness of the Adagio sostenuto then gives way to an intense and furious Presto with outbursts of demonic musical utterances occasionally interrupted by chorale-like lyrical moments. The tempo was extreme, almost carrying the passagework beyond audibility of detail and constantly striving for heroic large statements demanding our attention. The audience burst into applause at the end of the final chord.

The second movement is a classical theme and variations providing calm after the storm. The opening theme was played with simplicity and sweetness allowing the variations to grow out of it into expressions of playfulness, lyricism, humor, mystery and joy. Mr. Bell, dressed in a chic black outfit, was constantly in dancelike motion giving a visual expression to the music. Phrase synchronization of both musicians was lovely to hear. The final movement (presto) is a sparkling romp of a tarantella, a racing gallop with Mr. Bell crouching and springing as the mad horseman rushing forward with phenomenal speed. His pianist provided the support and stability for the impetuosity of the violin. At the final chord the audience leaped up for another standing ovation.

After a short intermission Faure's restless and Schumannesque work from 1876 was played. Mr. Haywood's pianism was exquisite with fluid and flexible lines shining through cascades of notes which gave the long singing lines of the violin deep currents on which to float and sparkle. This sonata helped lead the way from the 19th century to the 20th, not by urgent cries as Beethoven's “Kreutzer” had ushered music forward, but by enchantment. Faure's teacher and friend, Saint-Saëns wrote "In this sonata you can find everything to tempt a gourmet: new forms, excellent modulations, unusual tone colors, and the use of unexpected rhythms. And a magic floats above everything, encompassing the whole work, causing the crowd of usual listeners to accept the unimagined audacity as something quite normal. With this work Monsieur Faure takes his place among the masters."

The second movement, a gentle dreamy violin over a steady barcarolle beat, rises from darkness into ecstatic light. The lively scherzo evoked scherzos by Mendelssohn or Brahms, little magical beings scampering and fluttering almost outside our perceptions, contrasting with a lyrical legato trio. This scherzo brought a communal audience chuckle at the end. The magic of this piece had united audience and performers. The finale brought back the cascades of sparkling piano notes with the violin again expressive and lyrical in a relaxed rondo form. Once again the audience rose for a standing ovation.

The last part was a change from the printed version. Speaking from the stage, Mr Bell said that this concert was intended as a tribute to Josef Gingold, his principle teacher. The works played were ones that had been studied with Gingold, and the Faure was one of the teacher's favorites.

The violinist praised the Weill Hall and proceeded to play violin crowd pleasers, some of which he hadn't performed in 20 years: Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 1, Fritz Kreisler's Liebesleid and Wieniawski's Scherzo Tarantelle. Audience members seemed to relish these treats and the tribute to Mr. Bell's teacher. And finally, the audience went crazy with appreciation, shouting, whistling, bringing the performers back to the stage four times.