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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...
RECITAL REVIEW
Music at Oakmont / Thursday, March 09, 2017
Einav Yarden, piano

Pianist Einav Yarden

NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017

Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont.

The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connoisseurs nor for popular taste, but was full of rarely-played music from always-played composers. Somehow Beethoven’s magisterial A-Flat Major Sonata managed to get into the mix.

Ms. Yarden has been specializing lately in Haydn’s middle period sonatas, and it was refreshing to hear a work for the first time, the F Major No. 44. She played it very well, using a lot of damper pedal at the end of phrases and keeping the drama small-scaled but effective. The pianist underscored the stylistic diversity and innovation of the opening moderato and paid careful attention to harmonic nuances, of which there are many in this work that doesn’t have the usual level of the composer’s playfulness. The adagio was lovely, the tempo just right.

Schumann’s last set of three Fantasiestücke, Op. 111, closed the first half. Here again the artist played the swirling phrases and sweep of the C Minor in a beguiling tempo, and made the lovely and fragmentary A Flat (No. 2) sound a little like Brahms. But only a little, as Schumann’s harmonies prevailed, as they did in the march like C Major finale that had echoes of the great march from the Op. 17 Fantasy in the same key. Ms. Yarden played the simple theme and quick descending motifs flawlessly, which made the middle section sound all the more graceful.

Following intermission the composer’s Waldszenen, Op. 82, received a performance that stressed the connective tissue between the nine sections: tonal balances, asymmetrical phrasings and many staccato chords and even phrases. There seems to be no forte chords in this piece from 1849, and the entire recital eschewed loud outbursts of sound. Highlights of the playing included the contrapuntal lines in “Solitary Flowers,” poetic and almost flighty playing in the B Flat “Friendly Landscape”, and the extended questioning and a long and delicate decrescendo at the conclusion of “The Prophet Bird.”

Many of the themes in Forest Scenes harken to Schumann lieder, especially the Op. 25 songs “Myrthen,” and Ms. Yarden captured these aural references with idiomatic phrasing and pellucid tone color.

Beethoven’s penultimate Op. 110 Sonata closed the program in a polished and never bass-heavy reading. This glorious Sonata from 1821 is deeply expressive in its three semi-distinct movements, and Ms. Yarden treated the opening moderato in a leisurely manner, amiable and always eloquent. She was never in a hurry

This approach characterized the figurations in the scherzo-like allegro molto and the lyric introduction to the noble fugue. Textures were clear and the cantabile was limpid. It was persuasive Beethoven playing, vivid and convincing. If there was any interpretative misstep it came at the end when the final five bars lacked the non legato punch down to the final a-flat note and the upward push to the last raw fortissimo chord. The musical ecstasy was just missed.

No encore was offered.

Four of Beethoven’s early and seldom-played Op. 33 Bagatelles opened the recital, and each was a gem. Mr. Yarden’s tempos were ideal, as was careful half-pedaling and in No. 2 spotlighting Beethoven’s sly humor. In the will-of-the-wisp No. 7 she played scales and quick repeated notes impeccably.