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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Music at Oakmont / Thursday, January 12, 2017
Edward Arron, cello; Jeewon Park, piano

Jeewon Park and Edward Arron

FAST BUT NOT ALWAYS FURIOUS IN OAKMONT CELLO RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 12, 2017

New England-based cellist Edward Arron played an encore recital Jan. 12 at Music at Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium that was a in almost every way a success and surely an audience delight.

Beginning with Bach’s G Major Sonata gamba the cellist and pianist Jeewon Park played the work that rolls along without a great deal of contrast or even excitement. Here the string vibrato is minimal and Mr. Arron underscored long held notes prior to the two Allegro movements, and juxtaposing plaintive and quiet themes with the finale’s jaunty and etude-style parts. Though a workmanlike performance, this Sonata (unlike the epic Six Suites for Cello) passed without much notice.

Not so for the Barber C Minor Sonata, Op. 6, which closed the concert’s half. The cellist gave Barber’s youthful work a passionate performance with a big sound, swelling richly on notes and stating the sweet second theme with wide vibrato and compelling bottom end sonority. Playing in the Adagio was surprisingly fast with a Spiccato bow and a bantamweight ending.

The finale Allegro Appassionato was played with a broad sweep but was also a bit ruminating. Ms. Park’s pianism had ample articulation and balances with the cello were exemplary. The music exploits the entire range of the cello and Mr. Arron’s strong but when necessary delicate bow arm control conquered all.

Pärt’s strange but compelling Spiegel im Spiegel found Ms. Park playing repeated ascending triad notes over a pedal point cello and starkly held cello notes. This was a fascinating performance of a quasi-minimalist work, mostly in pianissimo with many one-step note progressions and soft triad chords and minimal vibrato. The many deceptive cadences and the piano line in the high treble (“dripping water sound”) and the pauses between cello phrases added up to a unique sonic and perhaps spiritual experience. At the end the sound faded to absolute zero!

Berger’s infamous noisy HVAC system impinged on Pärt’s super-subtle composition, but it was a cold day and the 160 people in the Hall were rightly mesmerized by the 1978 work originally written for violin and piano.

Concluding the concert was Mendelssohn’s D Major Sonata, Op. 58, arguably with the Beethoven A Major the most played classical cello sonata. In a turnabout the duo turned the epic first movement into hash by choosing a tempo the music, or at least their playing of it, could not support. The tempo was so fast that the expected big ritard at the piano’s insistent four repeated chords (at the point in the 78 era where the limited time recording stopped, as in the Feuerman version) was avoided, and Mr. Arron’s comprehensive technique was fully stretched.

Just as critical was Ms. Park’s inability at the chosen tempo to articulate scale passages, resulting is constant blurring and by playing on top of the keys missing the excitement that fast and clean pianism creates. Brilliance in music isn’t a matter of speed but of clarity.

Clarity returned in the Allegretto with fine Pizzicato technique and exceptionally subtle phrasing and controlled spontaneity, and the following Adagio’s flowing choral-like melody had rich string color.
The brilliant Molto Allegro movement was of course fast but had shape with section ritards and driving momentum, with Ms. Park an assertive partner.

A standing ovation generated the duo’s return to the stage and a unique question that Mr. Arron posed to his appreciative audience. He said, “Is there time for one more?” In a half-century of concert reviewing I have never heard an artist say anything like this, as usually encores are quickly identified or simply played without identification.

What came was a Mendelssohn’s D Major Song Without Words, Op. 109, in a luminous reading with chaste tone and perfectly sculpted phrasing. Praise for this encore performance could not be higher.