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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...
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...
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.