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Chamber
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosaís Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
Symphony
ALEXANDER TORADZE DELIVERS A LESSON IN SERENITY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 05, 2019
An entire concerto movement consisting of serene piano melodies over a soothing backdrop is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when seeing Shostakovichís name on an orchestra program, but thatís exactly what pianist Alexander Toradze delivered--twice--at Sundayís Santa Rosa Symphony c...
Symphony
MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON CLOSES WITH AUTUMNAL ELGAR AND THEATRICAL BEETHOVEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Mozartís enchanting Overture to his opera The Magic Flute, a miniature tapestry of gems from the 1791 work, opened the Marin Symphonyís final concert of the 2018-2019 season. Under conductor Alasdair Neale, the playing of the sprightly seven-minute piece by a reduced-size classical ensemble sparkled...
Recital
SHAHAM-EGUCHI DUO'S EXCITING MUSICAL GENEROSITY IN WEILL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, April 26, 2019
Violinist Gil Shaham may be the most modest virtuoso on the concert stage today, and it is the great music he most wishes to put forward, never himself. Generosity, a quality he is known for, was abundantly clear in Weill Hall April 26 when he performed, with pianist Akira Eguchi, a generous program...
Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint SaŽns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestraís new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasserís Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
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 (ďKreutzerĒ), and Faure's No. 1, Op. 13.

These were preceded by the Vitaliís 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 artistís 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 ďKreutzerĒ had ushered music forward, but by enchantment. Faure's teacher and friend, Saint-SaŽns 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.