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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 / Friday, November 06, 2015
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano

Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet

A TALE OF TWO PERFORMANCES

by John S. Hord
Friday, November 06, 2015

Jean-Yves Thibaudet’s Nov. 6 performance of Ravel in Weill Hall was sheer beauty, and illuminated the essentials of French piano music: elegance, proportion, balance, delicacy, and precision.

The performance of Noctuelles (Night Moths), the first of the five Mirrors (1905) was stunning. Oiseaux triste (Sad Birds) was projected to sound as if birds were indeed perched in various places of the hall. My only quibble is the reordering of the last two pieces in the set of five. I prefer La vallée des cloches last, as published, and believe this provides a more convincing musical framework by providing a “mirror” of the first piece in the set.

In the first half, all Schumann including Kinderscenen (Op. 15), the playing was less effective than the Ravel. The vast majority of Schumann’ s piano music is composed with three levels of interest; the melody on top, the bass line (usually another melody) at the bottom and a middle section that provides more rhythmic interest and fills out the harmonies. The melody on top from Mr. Thibaudet’s virtuosic hands (and feet) was quite beautiful, with song-like phrasing a joy to hear. But, the bass line was not projected strongly enough to provide the foundation of sound nor the counterpoint to the top melody. The result were bass lines and inner voices sounding as one idea, changing the texture of the work from polyphonic to homophonic.

The first movement of the Op. 11 F-Sharp-Minor Sonata has an arresting initial theme, and appears just after an introduction. The melody, rhythm, and accompaniment figurations were also used by Clara Schumann in the first piece, Impromptu: Le Sabbat, of her composition 4 Pièces caractéristiques, Op. 5. (This one piece was later retitled Witches Dance.) This is a beautiful example of motif sharing that was common in the Schumann household.

Mr. Thibaudet responded to encore requests by playing Brahms’ A Major Intermezzo of Op. 118, No. 2. It also did not have the projection of the three levels of sound mentioned in the works of Schumann, but the treble theme was performed elegantly.

The title “A Tale of Two Performances” reflected the acoustics in Weill Hall, at least in the critic’s seat at row J, stage left. I heard little piano resonance from the lovely hall, especially in the two big Schumann compositions. However, the lighter textures of Ravel fared much better with rich tone color and shadings.