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Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
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.