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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
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 REVIEW
Redwood Arts Council / Saturday, April 14, 2018
Boris Andrionov, cello; Dimitri Illarionov, guitar

Dmitri Illarnionov and Boris Andrionov

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 were mostly new to North Coast, and the program was mostly all arcane transcriptions. It was the final event in RAC’s 38th season.

Cellist Boris Andrionov has appeared at a previous RAC program in Occidental, with the virtuoso pianist Alexander Kobrin, and this evening joined guitarist Dmitri Illarionov for novel instrumental transcriptions. Transcriptions? Sure, and the selections were full of sonic variety, novel instrumental color and consummate virtuosity.

The duo played without score the entire evening and began with Bach’s C Minor Cello Suite, BWV 1011, using the two instruments solo in some of the six sections, or in a harmonious mix. The large church has a high ceiling and lots of carpeting and heavy oak pews, and thus minimal reverberation. But acoustics were excellent, as the sound is direct and clear. It was a fetching transcription highlighted by Mr. Andrionov’s non-legato arpeggios in the allemande. It was quickly clear that both player’s virtuosity and compositional wizardry would dominate the evening. These are sprightly dance movements with Mr. Illiaronov’s solo courante playing beguiling. Tempos were just right, judicious in the sarabande and slow and yearning in the two-parte gavotte.

Mr. Illarionov altered the program, playing Albéniz’ Granada instead of the announced Tarrega Carnaval of Venice Variations on a Paganini theme, but the substitution was welcome and splendidly performed. Guitar praise can go no higher. His two-finger legato supporting the single note theme was mesmerizing.

Falla’s Suite Popular Española was originally written for soprano and voice, and was transcribed by violinist Paul Kochanski for strings, and finally by the evening’s guitarist. There is much high register cello playing, and sounds of a Zarzuela dance and even a mimic of a soprano voice. Spanish rhythms abound and vibrato, mostly absent in the Bach, returned. A sensual work brilliantly performed.

Picking out highlights in a concert full of them is risky, but I might nominate the four Russian Romances that began the second half. Glinka and Boris Sheremetev were the only familiar composers, and the music was at turns melancholic in the “I Met You” (a captivating long decrescendo and crescendo by Mr. Andrionov), and a suave “salonstücke” dance in “The Gate” with cutesy pauses. Gaiety and sadness were constantly juxtaposed.

Four Moldavian Folk songs in transcription followed. The rhythms and “dervish” effects produced by both instruments were irresistible. The tarantella dance seemed to be played on top of the strings, and full of strange and rich color.

Two solos came next, Mr. Illarionov playing a non-Piazzolla “Tango en Skaï” (Roland Dyens) and Mr. Andrionov answered with an under six-minute scintillating performance of Giovanni Sollima’s cello showpiece “Lamentatio.” It was exciting and used instrument body slapping, long delicious slides, rapid bow and at one moment even the lament sound of the cellist’s own voice.

One might think that the audience of 150 would tire of many short works (23 at this time) and so much associated virtuosity, but that wasn’t the case, and two contrasting Piazzolla works concluded the recital: the slow and lovely “Tanti Anni Prima” and the pungent “La Muerte del Angel.” Both received the same sovereign instrumental command that characterized this sensational concert of unique string transcriptions.