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Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
Symphony
PEACE AND LOVE FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Before the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 4 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” Symphony CEO Alan Silow took a moment to acknowledge the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and to observe that music offers a more peaceful and loving view of the world. Mr. ...
Chamber
ATOS TRIO IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 04, 2018
When the ATOS Piano Trio planned their all-Russian touring program at their Berlin home base, it had a strong elegiac, even tragic theme that surely resonated with their Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience Nov. 4 in Mill Valley. Comprised of Annette von Hehn, violin; Thomas Hoppe, piano; and...
Chamber
ATOS TRIO IN OCCIDENTAL CHAMBER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 03, 2018
When the Berlin-based ATOS Piano Trio entered the cramped Occidental Performing Arts stage Nov. 3, the audience of 100 anticipated familiar works in the announced all-Russian program. What they got was a selection of rarely-plays trios, with a gamut of emotions. Then one-movement Rachmaninoff G Mi...
Symphony
MIGHTY SHOSTAKOVICH 10TH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Just two works were on the opening program of the Marin Symphony’s 67th season Oct. 28, Tchaikovsky’s iconic D Major Violin Concerto, and Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony. Before a full house in the Marin Center Auditorium conductor Alasdair Neale set a judicious opening tempo in the brief orchestra i...
Symphony
VIVALDI FOR ALL SEASONS IN WEILL BAROQUE CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, October 27, 2018
The Venice Baroque Orchestra, a dozen superb musicians that include strings, harpsichord and recorder, played an uplifting concert Oct. 27 of mostly Vivaldi sinfonias and concertos. The Weill Hall audience of 600 had rapt attention throughout, and the playing was of the highest musical level. This r...
RECITAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Sunday, May 14, 2017
Benjamin Bellman, violin; Orion Weiss, piano

Benjamin Beilman and Orion Weiss May 14 in Schroeder Hall

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 the mix the Janácek and Bartok No. 2 Sonatas were the core of a demanding afternoon, with the former perhaps the most memorable. Written in 1922 with echoes of the composer’s two string quartets, the four-movement piece reflects anxiety and fear from the period, and Mr. Beilman made the most of the often-confusing changes in rhythm and mood. He was a master of soft phrase endings, sometimes with whispering codicils. The raucous contrasts in the opening con moto turned into bucolic lyricism in the ballada, a movement heard February in Christian Tetzlaff’s fine Weill recital.

In the third movement allegretto Mr. Beilman’s interpretation became snarling and pushy, and Mr. Weiss’s playing was insistent and propulsive. The playing in the adagio finale was more of the same, Mr. Beilman’s slashing and thrusting phrases having the required hard-edged tone, juxtaposed with a plaintive theme in both the piano and violin lines. The diminuendo at the conclusion was beautifully played. It was high-level virtuosity from the duo.

Following intermission Bartok’s tumultuous work was heard, and even for the prepared listener it can be a difficult task to embrace. Don’t look for long melodic lines in the two movements, as the Hungarian master was interested in unique instrumental effects in a rustic fabric of sound. This is complex music with concentrated fantasy and is mostly atonal, with many slides, portamento, melodic pizzicato and numerous short sections. The violinist and pianist met every challenge including menacing toccata-like playing in the final allegretto where Mr. Beilman seemed to often alter his usual razor-sharp pitch for calculated effects. His high register pianissimo was captivating, and it ended the thrilling but confounding work composed in the same year as the Janácek.

The recital opened with chaste and balanced interpretation of Mozart’s B-Flat Major Sonata, K. 378. Both musicians were in no rush and the tempos seemed just right, and the tentative opening violin phrase moved to a subtle crescendo. Clearly Mr. Beilman can make changes and swells in volume sound easily natural. Nothing was forced and each thematic line was distinct and perfectly “Mozartian.”

Schubert’s 11-minute B Minor Rondo, a favorite of violinists, sounded pretty tame after the Bartok, with alternating jolly and peasant sections ending in several deceptive cadences. It’s Schubert in a husky mood and the duo’s virtuosity plumbed every nuance in the piece.

An ovation recalled the duo to the stage for a one encore, Kreisler’s chestnut Liebeslied (Love’s Sorrows). It was perfectly played but perhaps without the last ounce of Viennese whipped cream that the composer’s recordings capture.