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Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Recital
GLOVER'S ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHT'S CINNABAR RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Daniel Glover is arguably the busiest virtuoso pianist in the San Francisco Bay area, but rarely is heard in North Bay concerts. So 90 local pianophiles were anxious to hear him Feb. 17 in Petaluma’s charming small Cinnabar Theater, and they were rewarded with an eclectic program of sometimes unfam...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Friday, March 02, 2018
Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin; Lambert Orkis, piano

Mutter-Orkis Duo in Weill March 2 (J. McNeill Photo)

ADVENTUROUS BACH AND PENDERECKI IN MUTTER-ORKIS WEILL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 02, 2018

German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter returned to Weill Hall March 2 in a recital curiously different than her appearance on the same stage several years ago, and also dissimilar to a recent San Francisco concert with a heroic Respighi Sonata performance.

On a rainy night before 700 fans Ms. Mutter and her wonderful decades-long pianist Lambert Orkis chose a program that was inquisitive but also inconclusive. The latter came at the beginning of each half, all Brahms, and began the short Sonatensatz movement from the F.A.E. Sonata of 1853. It received a lively reading but the violinist was not note perfect, but quickly found her stride and the ending trills were crystalline. All through the recital, save for the final work, she played without score. It was a model opening but passed without being persuasive.

Brahms’ A Major Sonata followed intermission, last heard in Sonoma County years ago in a crackling Joseph Edelberg and Corrick Brown performance in Newman Hall. Here it was a small-scaled reading of the bucolic piece from 1886, one of the composer’s most lyrical and beguiling chamber compositions. Although the andante tranquillo second movement, with the well known pizzicato section, was played briskly, but Ms. Mutter was in no rush to get anywhere, and allowed the enchanting themes to unfold naturally. Mr. Orkis’ adjusted his piano sound, often overly reticent, and never covered the violin part. All was sweet and a little underplayed.

If the Brahms works were somewhat “proforma,” the duo’s choice of the Bach D Minor solo Partita (BWV 1004) and Penderecki’s 2nd Sonata were strikingly adventurous. Bach clearly was on fire when he wrote the five-part dance Partita during the Cöthen years, and Ms. Mutter provided a reading that focused on balance and contrasting tempos rather than the incandescence of Gil Shaham in Weill Hall three years ago.

She was most captivating in the quiet sections, and bow control in soft passages was supreme. She deftly built many small climaxes and though her volume was not large, the violin soared when the music demanded it. Trills and double stops were perfection. The gigue was played wonderfully and of course presto, a reminder of similar speed in a long ago Bach gigue (G Minor Sonata) by Hilary Hahn in Wells. Few musical things give me more instant pleasure than a headlong but always-controlled presto violin dash through a Bach gigue.

Ms. Mutter concluded with an extended sonic climax after four short sculpted phrases, and an extra-long fermata. An immediate standing ovation ensued.

It took courage to end the program with the Penderecki, a knotty piece written in 2000 for Ms. Mutter and Mr. Orkis. The violinist has championed contemporary string music, and in her 32-minute journey through the sprawling music (she used the score) seemingly every facet of violin virtuosity was on display: slashing bow strokes, short motives laced by long dissonant phrases, wispy inserted themes and plentiful small changes in articulation. Mr. Orkis used pedal point in many places, sometimes loud and sometimes soft.

In what must have been a North Coast debut, the Sonata alternates mystery with frenzy, and the violinist was up to every challenge, ending with a long piercing phrase in the stratosphere of the e string. A sonic odyssey indeed.

Applause was long and loud, and generated a single encore of Elman's transcription of Schubert’s Ständchen (Serenade), D. 957. Ms. Mutter played it with exemplary bow mastery in the character of the Schubert “landler,” albeit chock full of double and triple stops, Viennese charm and delicate expressive changes in pitch.