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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
RECITAL REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Saturday, April 23, 2016
Midori, violin; Ozgür Aysin, piano

Violinist Midori

EERIE SCHUBERT AND SOPORIFIC BRAHMS IN MIDORI RECITAL IN WEILL

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 23, 2016

California has long been a big part of Midori Goto’s career, and she now teaches and tours from the USC campus in Los Angeles. After never performing in Sonoma County, the violinist’s area debut April 23 in Weill was a moderate success before an audience of 800 that included a large sprinkling of string players and local musicians.

The centerpiece of the physically diminutive virtuoso’s program were the Schubert C Major Fantasie (D. 934) and the great first Brahms Sonata in G Major, Op. 78. With pianist Özgür Aydin Midori made the strongest impact with the Fantasie, a work in seven connected sections with brooding drama and touches of Hungarian motifs. The opening bars were played with the requisite mystery, eerie sound from silence, and the 25-minute work from 1827 unfolded in a true duet, the piano and violin parts intermingling with grace and at times operatic phrasing. It was chaste lyricism.

It was an underplayed and controlled reading, poetic and restful even in the fast passages. The balances were good and Midori’s spicatto bow technique was light and even. This is a connoisseur’s piece, and was played as such. The violinist’s tremolos echoed Mr. Aydin’s sparkling up and down scales.

As with all the evening’s pieces Midori had a score at hand (save for the final two Tchaikovsky works) but seldom looked at it, and intonation throughout was impeccable.

In the Brahms that began the second half, the performance was at a high level but way less exalted than the Schubert. The violinist’s interpretation of this potent Sonata, occasionally transposed for the viola or cello, was one of restraint rather than muscle, especially in the coda of the first vivace movement. As in the first theme of the composer’s early B Major trio, this luxuriant coda should give the listener a little chill on the back of the neck, and here the playing lacked passion, projection and punch. It sang but never soared. Mr. Aydin was dutiful and clearly was poised to never overplay or be interesting, making the magisterial Brahms themes into salonstücke rather than ardor, which is what the violinist presumably wanted in a pianist. Cold and calculating, never captivating. Here Midori had a thin, silvery tone but no Brahmsian red blood.

All through this glorious Sonata slow tempos and small-scaled playing prevailed, the tradeoff of careful and certainly exquisite bow and fingerboard control trumping projection and excitement. If petite and soothing Brahms is of interest, this performance was a classic. If riveting and ravishing Brahms was desired, listeners in Weill Saturday night needed to look elsewhere.

The recital began with Bach’s E Major Violin Sonata, BVW 1016, with slow-tempos and careful shaping of phrases with the emphasis on delicacy. The music seemed to glide by without much impact, but there were many lovely parts including soft double stops, subtle trills and a relaxed and ultimately convincing approach. The pianist never covered the soloist, but strangely I found myself wishing for the harpsichord rather than a modern, heavy legato piano part. That observation occurs rarely in music criticism.

The recital ended with two Tchaikovsky waltzes, the Valse Sentimentale (Op. 51) and the Valse Scherzo (Op. 34). Each was played with exceptional attention to nuance and probity, but again (especially in the Scherzo) with minimal sonic projection and only a modicum of excitement. Portamento in these romantic pieces is alas long out of fashion.

A standing ovation ensued, and one encore was forthcoming, a richly hued slow movement from Grieg. It was a highlight of the recital and the cynosure of Midori’s fame: perfectly fashioned violin phrasing and an infinite command of rarefied and individual bow technique.