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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 Rosaís Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San Josť, Costa Ricaís capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious†building†that is one of Sonoma Countyís loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.† Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hallís residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLERíS FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the universityís stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the universityís Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. SaŽnsí majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec lí...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago ďGolden EraĒ of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didnít play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuberís work to the publicís attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the seasonís final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopolís Community Church, as the performers...
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.