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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 it seems to be on almost every...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
Chamber
TRIO NAVARRO'S POPULAR FARE IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Long time Classical Sonoma readers may recall many Trio Navarro concert reviews that lauded their virtuosity and interest in rarely played repertoire. The April 8 concert in Schroeder Hall before 85 chamber music fans featured sterling performances but had a mostly conservative menu of popular trio...
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...
Symphony
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE VOICE AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 08, 2018
In an April 8 Santa Rosa Symphony concert filled to the brim with instruments--electric violin, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard samplers, harps, piano and myriad drums, gongs and bells, to say nothing of winds, brass and strings--the instrument that came out on top was the hum...
Chamber
VOM FESTIVAL TRIO CHARMS WITH CHAMBER MIX, AND HUMMEL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 31, 2018
At the core of the group of Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) musicians is an ensemble of trios and duos, and as a trio March 31 Festival founders cellist Tanya Tomkins and pianist Eric Zivian joined British violinist Monica Huggett for a chamber music concert in the Green Music Center’s Schro...
Choral and Vocal
GOOD FRIDAY REQUIEM FILLS INCARNATION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 30, 2018
Maurice Duruflé’s short and intense Requiem has been heard in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation before, but the March 30 Good Friday performance was stripped down in the number of performers, combining Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir with musical underpinning from organist Robert Youn...
Symphony
HAMELIN'S HUSKY MOOD IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Convention in piano recitals has the artist coming on stage and playing. Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin walked on Schroeder Hall’s stage March 25 and didn’t play for six minutes, chatting with the audience. A risk for some artists. Then most programs include a contemporary or rarely play...
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
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.