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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
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...
RECITAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Sunday, January 21, 2018
Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe, piano

Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe

ECLECTIC ANDERSON & ROE TRANSCRIPTIONS CAPTIVATE WEILL HALL AUDIENCE

by Nicki Bell
Sunday, January 21, 2018

From the first moment when Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe walked Jan. 21 on the Weill Hall stage and spoke to the audience about their two-piano program, it was clear that an afternoon of drama, humor, virtuosity, warmth, transcendence and excitement was in store.

This dynamic and mesmerizing duo create many of their own arrangements, and the first half consisted of three opera fantasies.  Their first was based on the finale of Act I of Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” and enacted drama, romance, humor and scandal.  At one piano, their ten minute arrangement of pianistic Mozart was pure theater.  Mr. Anderson often glances at Ms. Roe at a seemingly cunning moment, and with her return glances the communication conveyed a sense of fun and even conspiracy.

The concert paraphrase from Ades’ opera “Powder Her Face” was taken from a real life story of the Duchess of Argyle who displayed lack of judgment, reckless behavior, narcissism and scandal, and who finally recognizes her errors and decadence. At the end a tango danced by an electrician and a maid over the Dutchess’ bed of shame, and the pianistic duo made the music glittering as though seen through shards of broken glass.  There were wonderful mixtures of colors, rhythms, melodies and dissonances, with soft chords building to loud and sometimes jazzy chords. The energy was palpable.

More drama and romance came with their “Carmen Fantasy” performance with themes taken from Bizet’s 1875 opera - jazzy, gypsy, sensuous, feverish, all full of virtuosity and speed.  Their two-piano performance was stunning.

Both the artists are warm and enlightening speakers with an audience, and at this performance the stories enhanced their instrumental skills. If the first half of the program was about scandal, drama and romance, the second was about transcendence, with musical statements addressing a human yearning. John Adams’ 16-minute “Hallelujah Junction” was built on repetition, the rhythm of the word “lujah” sounding over and over. At the end of the piece one could hear the whole word “hallelujah” at the climax.  This music was featured in the film “Call Me By Your Name”.  The repetition of the word led to a sense of timelessness and a hypnotic state similar to Catholic incantations or Buddhist chanting.  In three movements, each flowing into the next, the music became driving and intense.  

A very different mood was created with the duo’s arrangement of the Hallelujah Variations based on the cult
classic of Leonard Cohen’s song, the meaning of “Hallelujah” sifting through despair, yearning, ecstasy and praise  It was composed with the inspiration of Schubert and late Beethoven, a duet with eight variations. Through the Beethoven and Schubert mix the Cohen song was easily heard.

Paul McCartney’s song  “Let It Be” concluded the program.  Ms. Roe sang the song, with its gospel-inflected tone before they played their arrangement. It was dueling gospel pianists with an uplifting message and the full hall went crazy with stomping and yelling and clapping for more.

The encore was from Bernstein’s “West Side Story” and was played as a rollicking duet of “America” with the added percussion of hands slapping the piano and rapping knuckles against the instrument's wood fall board. Both artists hopped up to dance while trading places on stage. When the audience wouldn’t let them go, they played “What a Wonderful World”, a quiet work full of filigree scales that calmed the hall’s energy.