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Recital
HOME RECITAL BACH COMPLETES HOLIDAY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 30, 2017
The just closing 2017 year was a calamity for many, but locally in music there were joys galore, and it was fitting Dec. 30 have the balm of two Bach’s violin sonatas in a private Guerneville home recital hosted by the eminent musician Sonia Tubridy. Violinist Richard Heinberg joined Ms. Tubridy in...
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 WITH 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 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.