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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...
RECITAL REVIEW
Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series / Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Laura Magnani, piano

Pianist Laura Magnani June 6

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 basketball playoff game on television and a special Bocce Ball tournament, but SLV Impresario Robert Hayden forged ahead and presented Marin-based artist Laura Magnani in a sparkling program of Chopin and Debussy.

Before beginning Chopin’s C Sharp Op. 26 Polonaise, Ms. Magnani talked at length about the composer’s relationship with his native Poland, and in the bold opening phrases of the extroverted Polonaise she did catch the flavor of the aristocratic dance. In the second bar was a stark missed note, and most would think that a dropped note so early would be unnerving for the performer. But it’s often quite the opposite, as every piano recital has playing on the key cracks, and it can be a relief to get the wrong note out of the way early. There were few over the rest of the recital, and the artist quickly established a distinctive and muscular sonority in nearly each composition.

Two Mazurkas followed (Op. 17, No. 4, and Op. 68, No. 2) and the plaintive Mazurka in A Major was lovely, with a beguiling pause at the end, and a good segue to Ms. Magnani’s playing of the rhythmically complex A Minor. She said in remarks that these Mazurkas were for Polish peasant dances, and her playing was indeed both atmospheric and sophisticated.

Two larger-scale Chopin works, the Fantasie-Impromptu and the G Minor Ballade, showcased the artist’s bright tone, tasteful ritards and consummate pedal control. Additionally, Ms. Magnani’s skips in both hands were accurate throughout the evening, and in the Ballade her technical command and interpretative power has markedly matured since a recital in Belvedere almost decade ago. Octave playing was fast and the accelerando prior to the second theme’s entrance was a new and sturdy interpretative touch. This Ballade performance told a story.

In additional extended remarks (on Debussy) the pianist underscored her Italian musical roots, and made exemplary connections to Debussy’s novel mastery of piano sonority. The two Arabesques (from 1888, at age 26) had the requisite color with the popular first in E not too fast, and the second (in G) showing a chaste staccato touch, humor and again those exact right-hand skips.

Debussy’s three Estampes (imprints) from 1903 received high-level readings with persuasive dynamic control. In Pagodes the bottom D and E flats were punctuated loudly, and in both this work and the Soirée dans Grenade Ms. Magnani’s repeated note phrases and cross-hand and close hand skips were virtuosic, and her vocal color captivating. The final Jardins sous la Pluie was played with commanding melodic and dynamic contrast, and with the stamina needed to establish the work’s excitement.

Expressive playing and stamina continued in the closing L’Isle Joyeuse, a popular Debussy piece where Ms. Magnani’s instrumental control produced animated excitement and brilliant sound in the flashing coda. Of course it brought down the house.

No encore was offered.