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Chamber
PERFORMER AS PROMOTER: CLARA SCHUMANN AND MUSICAL SALONS CLOSE VOM FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 28, 2019
The July 28 closing performance of the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival could have been subtitled "Friends", as it was devoted to works by both Clara and Robert Schumann, and those of their friends and protégés Brahms and virtuoso violinist Joseph Joachim, with whom Clara toured extensively...
Chamber
ROMANTIC CHAMBER WORKS HIGHLIGHT VOM FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 27, 2019
Now in its 5th season the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival presented July 27 a concert titled “My Brilliant Sister,” featuring Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s compositions for combinations of voice, fortepiano and strings. Fanny and her brother Felix were close, and Felix occasionally published ...
Symphony
ROMANTIC DREAMS AT THE MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kayleen Asbo
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Romanticism, contrary to many popular perceptions, wasn’t simply about diving into the habitat of the heart. Romanticism began as a literary movement that elevated the power of nature as a transcendent force and sought with keen nostalgia to rediscover the wisdom of the past. The Romantics in both l...
Chamber
CHAUSSON CONCERTO SHINES IN A VISIONARY'S SALON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Ernest Chausson’s four-movement Concerto in D Major for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet (1891) is neither concerto nor sonata nor symphony, but it somehow manages to be all three, especially when played with fire and conviction by an accomplished soloist. Those incendiary and emotional elements w...
Chamber
EUROPEAN SALON MUSIC CAPTIVATES AT VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Two stunning programs of 19th and 20th century chamber music were presented on July 21 and 28 as part of the Valley of the Moon Music Festival at the Hanna Center in Sonoma. Festival founders and directors pianist Eric Zivian and cellist Tanya Tompkins were both on hand to contribute brilliantly at ...
Chamber
ECLECTIC INSTRUMENTAL COMBINATIONS IN VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 20, 2019
A Lovely summer afternoon in Sonoma Valley, an excellent small concert hall, enthusiastic audience, exciting musicians and creative programming with interesting story lines. All these were combined July 20 at a Valley of the Moon Festival concert titled “An Italian in Paris.” This is the fifth seaso...
Opera
'ELIXIR' A WELCOME TONIC IN SPRIGHTLY ANNUAL MMF OPERA
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 19, 2019
In most of the Mendocino Music Festival’s 33 seasons a single evening is given over to a staged opera, with bare bones sets, lighting, costumes, minimal cast and short length. No Wagner or Verdi here, no multiple acts and complicated production demands. Light and frothy are the usual, and so it wa...
Recital
PUNGENT WALTZES AND VIRTUOSITY IN LADEUR'S SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
San Francisco based pianist Jeffrey LaDeur has become one of the most sought-after North Bay virtuosi, and cemented that reputation July 17 in a short but eclectic recital in Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village Chamber Music Series. Before 140 in the Village’s auditorium Mr. LaDeur began with Schubert...
Choral and Vocal
NOBLE BRAHMS REQUIEM PERFORMANCE CLOSES SONOMA BACH'S SEASON
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 01, 2019
Sonoma Bach, conducted by Robert Worth, presented a truly grand finale to their 2018-19 "Light Out of Darkness" season in two sold out Schroeder Hall performances June 1 and 2. The program "A Human Requiem" was received rapturously with a well-deserved standing ovation for the main work, Brahms' ...
Chamber
THREE SONG CYCLES HIGHLIGHT VIBRANT SLV RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks-Gailey
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
An ambitious recital of vocal and piano music was presented May 8 at Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Village by mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich and pianist Jeffrey LaDeur. The duo engaged the enthusiastic audience with scholarly friendliness and artistry in performances of Beethoven's short cycle of six song...
RECITAL REVIEW
Sky Hill Cultural Alliance / Friday, May 25, 2018
Jura Margulis, piano

Yura Margulis May 25 (K. Asbo Photo)

MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM

by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018

The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of the most anticipated each spring is the annual appearance of pianist Yura Margulis.
 
Mr. Margulis is a professor of piano at the Musica and Arts University in Vienna, and the May 25 recital affirmed his reputation as a stellar artist of Romantic sensibilities. 
 
Mr. Margulis began with comments to the audience on music as language, and in his words, “Music only reveals the truth. It does not lie”. The first half of the program consisted of six Scarlatti sonatas.  These are little baroque jewels, each one revealing a different facet of Mr. Margulis’s charismatic musical personality, from the  plaintive and haunting F Minor to the jaunty and bold military-inspired E Major.  By turns playful, aggressive and tender, Mr. Margulis’s emotional range in this music was truly breathtaking.  If he took liberties of rhythm, articulation and pedaling unimaginable to the Baroque era, his interpretations were still always thought provoking and deeply felt, with a nuanced interweaving of voices.  

The concluding D Minor prestissimo was a marvel of pianistic technique: rapid fire repeated note passages, swirling scales in thirds and perfectly even trills. Evoking the fire of a flamenco dancer (Scarlatti wrote this so-called Iberian sonata while living in Spain) the pianist left audience members gasping in astonishment and laughing with delight and disbelief at his bravura  precision.
 
Following a gracious intermission of gratis wine and cheese, Mr. Margulis turned to Russian music. A performance of Tchaikovsky’s Op. 59 Dumka (from 1886) was redolent with both inward, lyrical sensibility and heroic grandeur. The soulfulness of Russian folksongs emerged in its musical unfolding, seemingly drawing the audience inwards. It was in the four Preludes that concluded the program that true magic emerged. One could not wish for a pianist more deeply connected to the spirit of Rachmaninoff’s music, and each piece unfolded as an enchanting meditation aching with longing. The gossamer delicacy and poignancy of the G-Sharp Minor Prelude (Op. 32, No. 12) wove a spell of wonder, while the concluding G Minor (Op. 23, No. 5) erupted with molten passion.  This last prelude requires the most herculean of keyboard techniques to master its thunderous military octaves and yet demands the most elegant and lyric spirit to render its pleading middle section.

The artist’s virtuosity generated a standing ovation before the final chord, reflecting his potent musical alchemy. Mr. Margulis’s encore was the Scriabin Prelude in C sharp for Left Hand, Op. 9, No. 1. The poetic spirit and rich tone color warmed the heart and could not have been more satisfying.