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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...
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.