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Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Symphony
!PURA VIDA! A SONIC TRIUMPH FOR SO CO PHIL IN THRILLING COSTA RICA TOUR CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Long anticipated events, such as a great sporting game, gourmet feast, holiday trip or a concert, occasionally fall way short of expectations. The results don’t measure to expectations. With the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Costa Rica concert June 19, the performance exceeded any heated or tenuou...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
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...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
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 REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Sunday, February 18, 2018
Dorothea Röschmann, soprano; Malcolm Martineau, piano

Malcolm Martineau and Dorothea Röschmann Feb. 18 in Weill Hall (J. McNeill photo)

SOMBER GERMAN POETRY IN SONG AT ROSCHMANN RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 18, 2018

Two weeks does make a hefty difference. Feb. 3 saw the diva Renée Fleming beguile a full Weill Hall house in a mix of Brahms, Broadway show songs and Dvorak chestnuts. It was a gala event with couture gowns and colorful extra-musical communication between singer and her rapt audience.

Dorothea Röschmann’s Feb. 18 recital from the same stage was sharply different, though the respective pianists (Helmut Höll and Malcolm Martineau) were uniformly excellent. The German soprano said not a word to the 250 in Weill, sang only in her native language, and with Mr. Martineau selected a program short on easy charm and long on somber and intense artistry.

Schubert wrote most of his Mignon Lieder during his final decade, and the stage was set for an afternoon of engaging but often melancholic lyricism. The four works, with an attached “Nachtstücke,” were sung with exemplary diction and palpable sadness. Only the second (“So last mich scheinen”) had much light with its simple piano part, and the third (“Nuf wer die Sehnsucht kennt”) with the soprano’s effortless drop of two octaves were out of character. The finale (“Kennst du das land?”) was sung in a faster tempo with a big final note.

“Nachstücke” (D. 672) was also somber but was sung beautifully, beginning with a delicate piano prelude and following graded arpeggios, and ending with Ms. Röschmann’s accurate attacks and handling the modulations with just the slightest use of ritards.

Mahler’s Rückert Lieder closed the first half, a group of five songs recounting bucolic suffering. Many singers begin with “Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft,” but Ms. Röschmann made it the second song, and with it the “real” Mahler was gloriously heard. So much of the music echoes the contemporary Kindertotenlieder cycle, and the singer gave each a dose of mystery and longing, with “Um Mitternacht” generating the first sonic majesty of the recital. The many descending piano lines captured the mystery of the poetry. The “Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder” was performed with references to the composer’s less heavy Fourth Symphony, and the music in the final (“Ich Bin der Welt”) was slowly performed, an anguished lament and a sad journey.

This haunting Mahler finale was carefully sung, provoking a far off vision, with the pianist able to terrace soft dynamics and Ms. Röschmann nailing a soaring high note that quietly broadened into a long pensive postlude. This was perhaps the recital’s highlight.

Schumann’s rarely performed Marian Stuarda Lieder opened the second half, and though beautifully sung it passed without the emotional heft of the previous Mahler and the Wagner to come. The harmonies were echt Schumann and the fourth and fifth songs the most convincing – “Abschied” (a complicated song, with many small soprano touches) and the declamatory operatic drama of “Gebet.”

Schumann’s short cycle was swept aside in the concert’s concluding Wesendonck Lieder, Wagner’s passionate five-part grouping composed in 1857. Ms. Röschmann’s operatic credentials immediately were on display in “Der Engel,” a stunning ray of vocal sunshine after so much mournful musical travail. The slow tempos were perfect gauged, the big climaxes never forced or shrill. This continued in “Stehe Still!” and the Tristan Prelude-themed “Im Treibhaus.” The soprano’s low notes over a piano tremolo in the latter were richly hued, and the constantly returning theme was transfixing in a haunting ensemble. Mr. Martineau never covered the singer, and his subtle accents in major-minor key changes were ever persuasive.

In response to a standing ovation one encore was offered, Liszt’s short “Es Mus Ein Wunderbares Sein” (a wonderous rapture must it be). As all through this recital, it was sung with consummate mastery, including a novel long pause before the a tempo marking (Vom ersten kuss). Praise can go no higher.

The Green Music Center producers provided extensive notes and translations, the house lights were kept up, and with the late afternoon window luminosity people could easily follow the printed poetry.