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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...
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...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
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...
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.