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Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
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.