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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 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...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
RECITAL REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Thursday, October 20, 2016
Itzhak Perlman, violin; Rohan De Silva, piano

Violinist Itzhak Perlman in Weill Hall Oct. 20 (Cory Weaver Photo)

ARTISTRY AND AMPLE RELAXED CHARM AT PERLMAN RECITAL IN WEILL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 20, 2016

Itzhak Perlman has fashioned a career that encompasses more than virtuoso violin performance, and includes teaching, narrating musical documentaries, score editing, humanitarian projects, charity events and an often an easy “ah shucks” demeanor that is always beguiling.

With pianist Rohan de Silva Oct. 20 in Weill Mr. Perlman programed just four works, but a balanced four that delighted a full house in Weill that included 70 stage seats. I don’t recall recital stage seats since Lang Lang’s Weill concert five years ago, or a recent sold out house for a classical music.

Following remarks by SSU President Judy Sakaki regarding Mr. Perlman’s celebrity status and her own recent appearance with an SSU ensemble, Vivaldi’s Op. 2 A Major Sonata was played. It was a classic warm up piece, pleasant with minimal vibrato and quickly forgotten.

Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne in the Samuel Dushkin arrangement came next, a masterful development of a banal theme into six intriguing parts that the violinist has played throughout his career. There is even a video of a White House performance before President Reagan, and that was 36 years ago. Mr. Perlman, using sheet music as he did all evening, played the contrasting sections with low-temperature aplomb, never forcing his tone. His trademark silvery bow technique and deft spiccato served this music well.

In the romping Tarantella Vivace Mr. de Silva’s piano line covered the violin, and in the familiar Gavotte Mr. Perlman’s notes in the low register didn’t sound. The double stops and dance figures of the Minuetto whirled to the end, and control of E-string effects was impressive. At 71 his command is still formidable.

Unfortunately Mr. Perlman's artistry has embraced less sonic projection than in past years, and this hobbled a lyrical but too often flaccid reading of Beethoven’s F Major Sonata (Spring), Op. 24. His lovely tonal equipment was of course present in this iconic work, but the playing never rose to even minor grandeur in the 1,400-seat Hall. Mr. de Rohin was of little help here, his scales downplayed to match the violin line and consequently were indistinct and muddy. Of course many small examples of consummate violin playing were on display, including deftly-held notes at the end of a phrase, perfectly-gauged vibrato and subtle control of slower-than-usual tempo in the concluding Rondo. It was a masterpiece played caressingly but never passionately.

Ravel’s G Major Sonata occupied the second half in a workmanlike performance that unlike the Ida Kavafian performance (earlier the same day at Oakmont) was of moderate temperature. In the Allegretto, the only Impressionistic part of the 1927 work, the playing was subdued and the piano and violin seemed at times to go their own way. Mr. Perlman captured Ravel’s unique timbre and color that reflected harmonies taken from the composer’s 1905 “Une Barque Sur L’Ocean” piano work. It was a richly hued mirror of the Impressionist “Miroirs.”

Some of the evening’s best playing came in the blues-infused second movement where the violin seemed to whine and sway under the virtuoso’s careful control. The Perpetuum Mobile finale past quickly and was delightful in character but was lacking in dramatic punch.

A standing ovation ensued and encores were expected. Four were performed, and the now well-known Perlman-de Rohan “skit” of bringing out a pile of sheet music for consultation (as to which to play) was enacted. Most concert goers know that possible encore music is assiduously rehearsed, but depending on your outlook this little drama is either affected or charming. The Weill audience was of the latter opinion and loved the passing of scores and Mr. Perlman’s facetious comments on “probably” playing encores in the same auditorium in 1912.

Several Fritz Kreisler transcriptions were forthcoming, the most persuasive being a lovely slow fox-trot dance with a bantamweight ending to begin the series, and the Tambourin-Chinois that ended it. The Tambourin was played with élan but Mr. Perlman chose a leisurely tempo that lessened the difficulty but enhanced the magic of the piece.

As a respite from showpieces one encore was the theme from the movie “Schindler’s List,” and at the last notes the audience was spellbound and for several moments silent.