DEMANDING VIOLIN SONATAS CONQUERED BY BEILMAN-WEISS DUO IN SCHROEDER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Violinist Benjamin Beilman’s ravishing Mozart performance at last summer’s Weill Hall ChamberFest finale lured an enthusiastic crowd to Schroeder Hall May 14 to hear if his secure virtuosity was up to a program of demanding sonatas. He did not disappoint.
With the powerful pianist Orion Weiss in t...
SOVIETS INVADE WEILL HALL, TAKE NO PRISONERS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 07, 2017
Bruno Ferrandis may be French, but he excels in Soviet repertoire. His Slavonic expertise was more than amply demonstrated at the Santa Rosa Symphony’s May 7 concert, where the program began joyfully with Khachaturian’s ballet suite from “Masquerade,” surged forward with Prokofiev’s second violin co...
MASTERFUL PIANISM IN GOODE'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, May 05, 2017
Pianist Richard Goode programmed an evening of treasures May 5 from four great composers, and is an artist of intimacy and intelligence, power and passion, able to go deep and to soar. Hearing Mr. Goode play this literature was a reminder of how music does indeed bridge worlds and time.
Bach’s E m...
ELEGANT ORGAN SALUTE TO THE REFORMATION
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Organist Jonathan Dimmock presented an April 30 recital in homage to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, playing Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh instrument. Mr. Dimmock is the organist for the San Francisco Symphony, principal organist for the Palace of the Legion of Honor and teaches at...
NOTES AND BARS DO NOT A PRISON MAKE
by Nicki Bell
Saturday, April 29, 2017
The Hermitage Piano Trio brought exuberant musicality and sumptuous sound to a packed house April 29 in Occidental's Performing Arts Center for the last concert in the Redwood Arts Council’s 37th season. With a wide interpretive range--from lush to delicate to passionate--these three young Russian v...
SCHUMANN AND BARTOK HIGHLIGHT BRONFMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Lee Ormasa
Friday, April 21, 2017
Those people once addicted to the “Angry Birds” game application likely suffered an auditory flashback during the opening measures of the allegro
from Bartok’s Suite, Op. 14, the opening work in Yefim Bronfman’s April 21 recital at Weill Hall. The repetitive opening figures of the Bartok were...
HULKING MAHLER "TITAN" AT SO CO PHIL'S SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 08, 2017
A composer’s first symphony rarely gives a clear indication of what beautiful complexities will follow over the years. Early Mozart and Tchaikovsky are examples, and the big exceptions to this axiom are the “firsts” of Beethoven, Shostakovich and Mahler.
Tackling Mahler ‘s D Major Symphony (No. 1,...
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY STAYS CLOSE TO HOME
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Santa Rosa Symphony concerts usually feature high-powered soloists imported from afar, but for their recent “Bring on the Strings” concert set, they stuck close to home, thrusting their principal violin, viola and cello into the limelight. The violinist (Joseph Edelberg) and the violist (Elizabeth P...
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHARACTERS OF THE BAROQUE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, known as Akamus, played a Weill Hall concert March 12 in a program called "Foreign Affairs -Characters of the Baroque.” The ensemble, that began in 1984, has 15 musicians led by concert master Bernhard Forck. Attired in elegant black with red accents, ranging from tie...
CONSUMMATE ENSEMBLE FROM THE MIRÓ IN WEILL
by Sonia Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Sunday, March 05, 2017
A March 5 Weill hall audience of 350 leaned in to share an intimate musical space and to hear the Miró String Quartet’s sterling concert.
Starting with Haydn's Op. 20, No. 4, the four musicians seemed to want listeners to be enveloped in their music. The Miró plays with the feat of being four distinct individuals with a shared sensibility. Certainly the joy of their playing and of their musical companionship is made an uplifting musical experience. The first movement started with mysterious tone colors and a drum motif that moved the music to unexpected harmonic fields and juxtaposed playfulness with serious character. The pairs of duets among the four strings were balanced and carefully shaped, allowing inner voices to sing in the ensemble. The composer here created a sense of time which is simultaneously fast and leisurely. Phrase endings melted into silence effortlessly.
The second un poco adagio affettuoso movement was played delicately and featured a variety of solos lines in the minor variations. The first was a dialogue between second violin William Fedkenheur and violist John Largess, then an expansive cello variation (Joshua Grindele) followed by dancing triplets from violinist Daniel Ching.
Leading to the end, Haydn provides pianissimo moments leaning into intense dissonances with startling accents and drama. The allegretto was jolly and full of mischief, the players almost moving to a syncopated dance, interrupted by a lyrical cello interlude, and then tumbled headlong to the final movement. The presto scherzando had ongoing surprises. It started and stopped, became a celebration of gypsy fiddling energy, and sometimes was a concerto with violin solos and was always capricious and vibrant and then came a sudden exuberant ending.
The Brahms C Minor Quartet, Opus 51, No. 1, closed the first half and burst forth with drama and fire. The agitated character of the work is carried in restless fast rhythms, leaping octaves and overlapping voices, searching and frenzied. This is an orchestral world carried by only four string players. The first movement had a frenzied disorder and came to a peaceful resolution in C Major. The second movement (romanze) had a pastoral feel, punctuated by horn calls and restless sections being drawn into the original repose. After a long and beautiful silence where the audience maintained the quiet suspense, the playing in the third movement wove a restless tapestry of shifting minor keys, somewhere between song and dance, neither fast nor slow, and often polyphonic and chromatic. The players produced the sunniness of children's songs in the ambient darkness.
The final allegro movement has strong musical ties to the first movement, but is much more positive in treatment of those motifs. The virtuosic power of composition and of performance was transformative. There was great power and exquisite sweetness. Throughout, the Miró musicians reinforced each other and their interactions brought the joy of their bringing great music to life.
After an intermission, pianist Anne-Marie McDermott joined the Miró for Schumann's Piano Quintet, Op. 44, composed in 1842. Schumann was one of the first composers to combine a string quartet with a piano. This quintet opens with celebratory chord flourishes followed by wistful melodic moments repeated often in the piano. Balance here was excellent, quite a feat for this hall and the challenges of large chamber ensembles. Ms. McDermott had beautiful dynamic control and articulation, bending the rhythms with rubatos for expressive nuance, elegantly supported by her attentive partners.
The second movement was a hushed funeral march in C Minor, changing to poignant lament with otherworldly piano accompaniment, then diabolical cries of anguish and finally resumption of the march in quiet acceptance. Choices of tempo allowed the different moods to speak clearly. The following scherzo was taken at a fiery tempo, one that allowed some loss of detail in the second trio. It was always melodramatic and led with energetic gesture to the last movement. It started with noble musical mood in a slavic influenced theme. There were sighs in the strings, rumbles in the piano, unique syncopated passages and playful interweaving of piano and strings. Near the end, the forward motion stops abruptly, and the piano returns to the opening theme and an exciting double fugue leads to the triumphant ending.
The Schumann had the audience standing for ovations. No encore was given.