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Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
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...
Recital
PIANISTIC COMMAND IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, October 08, 2017
Nikolay Khozyainov’s Oct. 8 debut at the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall was one of those rare moments in a young artist’s career when a performance approaches perfection. From the opening notes of Beethoven’s A-Flat Major Sonata (Op. 110) through a delightful recital ending transcription, the ...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Piano Sonoma / Tuesday, August 01, 2017
Emi Ferguson, flute; Peter Dugan and Angie Zhang, piano; Down Na, violin; Julia Glenn, violin and viola; Michael Dahlberg, cello;

Flutist Emi Ferguson at Piano Sonoma Festival

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-residence program attracting young musicians from leading music schools.

The evening began with playing of a section of Bach’s Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), Nos. 16-24 and Aria, arranged for strings. A portion of the entire set was featured at each of the four concerts, this time with pianist Angie Zhang, flautist Emi Ferguson, violinist Doori Na, violist Julia Glenn and cellist Michael Dahlberg. From the grand 16th variation “Ouverture” with its pomp and circumstance through the lilting 24th variation “Canone All’ Ottava,” the ensemble playing was strikingly good. These are polished young musicians already equipped with the interpretive skills of seasoned players. It served as a great start to what was a spectacular evening of music making.

Pianist Peter Dugan then offered Beethoven’s Bagatelles, Opus 126, and he is an artist with great expressive skills and has that special performance gene that allows him to communicate directly with an audience. His animated playing was infectious and yet he did it without any of the tawdry pianistic stage gestures one often sees. These are quiet pieces filled with emotion and Mr. Dugan could not have played them any better.

Next came the duo of Ms. Na and Ms. Zhang in a moving exposition of Mozart’s E Minor Piano and Violin Sonata, K. 304. These two seemed to be musical soul mates, as the instruments blended together to create a glorious result in this short work (under 14 minutes) that was written in 1778. For such youthful artists to play at this level was a joy to hear and see. Ms. Zhang was particularly sensitive in her playing and exhibited a thorough understanding of the sonata and its challenges. Mr. Na followed suit with elegant playing in the often somber second movement, in a tasteful partnership with Ms. Zhang. The enthusiastic audience expressed its approval.

The program closed with Haydn’s Piano Trio in G Major, Hob. XV:15, featuring Ms. Ferguson, Mr. Dahlberg and Mr. Dugan. In pre-performance remarks it was stated that Haydn loved to laugh, and the audience was asked to see if they heard any musical jokes, so to speak, in the score. The 20-minute piece from 1790 is certainly light-hearted and frothy in parts, and yet what the ensemble playing revealed was the rich harmonic contours of the score, especially during the andante movement. One literally had to restrain oneself from humming along. Ms. Ferguson’s sprightly flute virtuosity conveyed the emotional content of each movement beautifully. The piano line never dominated the performance and the three musicians had excellent ensemble.

It’s clear that the Piano Sonoma program has attracted serious artists in a Festival of charming music making.