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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...
Recital
LIN'S PIANISM AND PERSONA CHARM SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 21, 2018
In somewhat of a surprise a sold out Schroeder Hall audience greeted pianist Steven Lin Oct. 21 in his local debut recital. Why a surprise? Because Mr. Lin was pretty much unknown in Northern California, and Schroeder is rarely, very rarely sold out for a single instrumentalist. But no matter, and...
Recital
IDIOMATIC SCHUMANN AND BEETHOVEN HIGHTLIGHT WALKER'S CONCERTS GRAND RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 23, 2018
Mostly known as a concert producer and indefatigable promoter of Sonoma County music, pianist Judy Walker stepped into the soloist’s role Sept. 23 in a sold out recital for the Concerts Grand House recitals series. Two Scarlatti Sonatas, in D Minor (K. 213) and D Major (K. 29), began the hour-long ...
Recital
DEDIK'S POTENT BEETHOVEN AND CHOPIN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Monday, September 17, 2018
Anastasia Dedik returned Sept. 17 to the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series in a recital that featured three familiar virtuoso works in potent interpretations. Chopin’s G Minor Ballade hasn’t been heard in Sonoma County public concerts since a long-ago Earl Wild performance, and Beethoven’s...
Recital
DUO WEST OPENS OCCIDENTAL CONCERT SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 09, 2018
Before a full house at the Occidental Performing Arts Center Sept. 9 the cello-piano Duo West, playing from score throughout, presented a recital that on paper looked stimulating and thoughtful. Beginning with MacDowell’s To A Wild Rose (from Woodland Sketches, Op. 51), the transcription by an unan...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Recital
KENNER'S ALL POLISH RECITAL HAS PADEREWSKI RARITY
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Kevin Kenner’s April 8 recital at Dominican University’s Angelico Hall had been advertised as all-Chopin, but he added a detour into another seminal Polish composer-pianist, Paderewski. Several of Mr. Kenner’s teachers were Poles, he speaks Polish, and he navigated at the piano both composers’ deman...
Recital
VIRTUOSIC VARIATIONS IN MORGAN'S SCHROEDER ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Organist Robert Huw Morgan’s artistry spun through the web of early variation form in a Mar. 18 recital on Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh organ. Mr. Morgan, Stanford University’s resident organist, performs a wide range of repertoire, but as he said in comments to the audience, he loves when h...
RECITAL REVIEW
Concerts Grand House Recitals / Sunday, September 03, 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 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 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.