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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
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.