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Recital
SCHUMANN AND BARTOK HIGHLIGHT BRONFMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Lee Ormasa
Friday, April 21, 2017
Those people once addicted to the “Angry Birds” game application likely suffered an auditory flashback during the opening measures of the allegro from Bartok’s Suite, Op. 14, the opening work in Yefim Bronfman’s April 21 recital at Weill Hall. The repetitive opening figures of the Bartok were...
Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Recital
RISKY SPEED IN POTENT LUO RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Each half of pianist Wei Luo’s Schroeder Hall recital Jan. 22 contained beguiling interpretations and consummate technical command of Shostakovich and Albeniz works, but each half finished with less than exalted playing. Two of Shostakovich’s Op. 87 Preludes and Fugues opened the recital, from the ...
Recital
COLORFUL SCHUBERT AND CHOPIN WARM WEILL HALL IN AX RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Friday, January 20, 2017
On a stormy winter evening Jan. 20 a rainbow of colorful Schubert and Chopin music came from the fingers, feet and heart of pianist Emanuel Ax.  Playing at the Weill Hall for the first time, this recital was a tribute to beauty in the arts. It conveyed the value and glory of balance, lyricism and el...
Recital
SOUND AND FURY IN MATSUEV WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 22, 2016
A touring virtuoso’s reputation often precedes him or her, and usually that’s a good thing. The reputation of a Renée Fleming or a Yo Yo Ma can guarantee a sold out hall, and possibly a great concert. But not always, and so there was some concern at Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s Oct. 23 Weill re...
Recital
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 ...
Recital
MORGAN'S ORGAN VIRTUOSITY SHINES IN ALL BACH RECITAL IN SCHROEDER
by James Harrod
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Robert Huw Morgan, Stanford University’s consummate organist, returned to the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall October 16 to play a thrilling recital of great Bach organ music from mostly Bach’s Cöthen period. Professor Morgan’s eclectic program included the Prelude and Fugue in E Flat Major, B...
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.