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Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
RECITAL REVIEW
Concerts Grand House Recitals / Sunday, September 3, 2017
Sandra Shen, piano

Pianist Sandra Shen July 3 in Santa Rosa

ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 3, 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 small audience in an East Santa Rosa home.

The South Bay-based artist has played in Santa Rosa before, at the Spring Lake Village series produced by Robert Hayden, but this was Ms. Shen’s local debut in an intimate setting, albeit with a garden party following the playing. Risotto “con fungi” and German potato salad had pride of place, not lasagna.

Bach’s B-Flat Partita opened the short recital and was given a studied reading with seemingly taking every repeat. Highlights were the vivacious two-voice Corrente and the wonderful clarity in the Gigue that was played at a moderate tempo with Scarlatti-like hand crossings. The artist added several catchy turns in the Allemande, always welcome in the Glenn Gould style of playing Bach.

She followed the Partita with Schubert’s ever-popular B Flat Impromptu from Op. 142, a work with a beguiling theme and five perfectly crafted variations. They were played chastely and with a natural rise and fall of phrase, with a quiet ending that brought loud applause. The reading had just a hint of nostalgia.

Artful and convincing shaping of phrase continued with Chopin’s great F Sharp Barcarolle, a work with an Italianate theme from the composer’s last years. It was the first of three compositions featuring water. In the Barcarolle Ms. Shen suppressed the often heard intimate interpretation in favor of more expansive playing, underscoring the work’s inner drama that peaked with a glorious melodic statement after the descending chords phrase that ends slowly in F Sharp. The reading produced the most extended ovation of the afternoon. Captivating.

Chinese composer’s bucolic Autumn Moon Reflection on a Lake was the penultimate work, and passed without much notice in four minutes of slow and vivid harmonic progressions that might have been soporific in the small concert room with its elevated temperature.

All the languor was swept away with a richly colored performance of Ravel’s Jeux d’Eau. As throughout the recital Ms. Shen’s damper pedal control of sound, especially in the piano’s upper registers, was graceful and florid. Under Ms. Shen’s deft fingers (and feet) fountain spray seemed everywhere in the impressionist sonority of the 1902 work.

No encore was offered, and the audience repaired to the cooler patio for food, and several had the opportunity to speak at length about the music with the elegant pianist.

The reviewer is also the producer of the Concerts Grand House Recitals series.