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Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
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...
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.