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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 itís 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 Handelís seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if itís 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 Purcellís Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the schoolís Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossiniís ďWilliam TellĒ overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonicís Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
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.