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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
Mastercard Performance Series / Saturday, February 18, 2017
Tetzlaff-Vogt Duo. Christian Tetzlaff, violin; Lars Vogt, piano

Lars Vogt (left) and Christian Tetzlaff Savoring Weill Hall Applause Feb. 18

AUTHORITATIVE BARTOK HIGHLIGHTS TETZLAFF VIOLIN RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 18, 2017

Christian Tetzlaff’s Feb. 18 violin recital rolled along with lively and fresh readings of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert when the specter of Bartok’s granitic Second Sonata intervened. The sonic shock to the audience of 250 in Weill was palpable.

Composed in 1923 the 20-minute two-movement work is an insistent and often meandering Sonata that demands a lot from the listener, but even more so from a virtuoso executant. Though there are references to the composer’s Piano Sonata of three years later, the Bartok stands by itself in atonality and invention. Mr. Tetzlaff caught the fantasy and rhythmic complexity of the opening molto moderato with accurate slides up to a held note, and long phrases mixed in with a formidable portamento and pizzicato technique. There were no easy tunes to grasp, no legato phrasing and counterpoint.

Sonic outbursts continued in the concluding allegretto with a beginning toccata that was played on top of the strings, often without vibrato, and with solid foundation playing from pianist Lars Vogt. The intangible themes cried out from both instruments, sometimes shrilly, sometimes with surprisingly powerful playing but always under impeccable control. A few in the small Weill audience were seen to lose interest or were simply overwhelmed, but many (perhaps some violinists?) were entranced by the provocative performance, and gave the duo a standing ovation.

Mozart’s F Major Sonata, K. 377, followed the Bartok and was oil on troubled waters. Smiles appeared in the audience as the familiar music unfolded with swirling scales from Mr. Vogt and appropriately fast tempos. It was an outsized reading throughout, and in the variations of the andante each version had a different character, and Mr. Tetzlaff deftly conveyed a slow dance and then rich tone in the charming theme.

Beethoven’s C minor Sonata (Op. 30, No. 2) opened the program with strong instrumental contrasts and outsized, if often clipped, phrases. Mr. Tetzlaff’s subtle control of dynamics was especially present in the lovely adagio where every register of his violin sounded pure, and intonation dead on. At one point he stroked twice across all four strings with the backside of his hand, producing a beguiling chordal effect. The chirpy scherzo led to a concluding allegro presto of substantial momentum, where color and articulation from Mr. Vogt took a back seat to often raw but exciting “middle period” Beethoven playing.

Schubert’s brilliant B Minor Rondo (D. 895) ended the program in heated salonstücke romp that was lengthy and repetitive, as Schubert often is, but also brought the audience again to its feet in applause.

The one encore was a special choice, the Ballada from Janácek’s 1913 Violin Sonata. Here Mr. Tetzlaff and Mr. Vogt explored the fluid chromatic runs with deliberate tempos and a long line that produced for the first time during the evening’s recital calming and shimmering effects. This was ensemble playing of a high order.

In some ways the selected works were a curious mix, neither for connoisseurs nor the gallery. But there was no mistaking Mr. Tetzlaff’s singular achievement and consummate command.