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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...
Symphony
PEACE AND LOVE FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 04, 2018
Before the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 4 performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” Symphony CEO Alan Silow took a moment to acknowledge the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack and to observe that music offers a more peaceful and loving view of the world. Mr. ...
Chamber
ATOS TRIO IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 04, 2018
When the ATOS Piano Trio planned their all-Russian touring program at their Berlin home base, it had a strong elegiac, even tragic theme that surely resonated with their Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience Nov. 4 in Mill Valley. Comprised of Annette von Hehn, violin; Thomas Hoppe, piano; and...
Chamber
ATOS TRIO IN OCCIDENTAL CHAMBER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 03, 2018
When the Berlin-based ATOS Piano Trio entered the cramped Occidental Performing Arts stage Nov. 3, the audience of 100 anticipated familiar works in the announced all-Russian program. What they got was a selection of rarely-plays trios, with a gamut of emotions. Then one-movement Rachmaninoff G Mi...
Symphony
MIGHTY SHOSTAKOVICH 10TH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Just two works were on the opening program of the Marin Symphony’s 67th season Oct. 28, Tchaikovsky’s iconic D Major Violin Concerto, and Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony. Before a full house in the Marin Center Auditorium conductor Alasdair Neale set a judicious opening tempo in the brief orchestra i...
Symphony
VIVALDI FOR ALL SEASONS IN WEILL BAROQUE CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, October 27, 2018
The Venice Baroque Orchestra, a dozen superb musicians that include strings, harpsichord and recorder, played an uplifting concert Oct. 27 of mostly Vivaldi sinfonias and concertos. The Weill Hall audience of 600 had rapt attention throughout, and the playing was of the highest musical level. This r...
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.