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Recital
HOME RECITAL BACH COMPLETES HOLIDAY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 30, 2017
The just closing 2017 year was a calamity for many, but locally in music there were joys galore, and it was fitting Dec. 30 have the balm of two Bach’s violin sonatas in a private Guerneville home recital hosted by the eminent musician Sonia Tubridy. Violinist Richard Heinberg joined Ms. Tubridy in...
Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE WITH SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
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.