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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
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 t...
Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
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...
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.