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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...
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...
RECITAL REVIEW
Mill Valley Chamber Music Society / Sunday, January 13, 2019
Nikolay Khozyainov, piano

Nikolay Khozyainov Jan. 13 in Mill Valley (A. Wasserman photo)

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 gratified.

His program began tenderly with the opening bars of Chopin’s F Major Ballade No. 2, Op. 38, contrasting gentle passages with thunderous outbursts to evoke manifold emotions. Then he interpreted Chopin’s poetic B Major Nocturne Op. 62, No. 1 as a meditative rumination flooded with nostalgia, and performed with lovely touches of rubato.

Mr. Khozyainov then launched into Stravinsky’s Three Movements from the 1921 ballet “Petrushka”: Russian Dance, In Petrushka’s Cell, and The Shrovetide Fair. The original orchestral version of Petruhska was composed in 1911 for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russe, but in 1914 a transcription for piano, four hands, was arranged by Stravinsky and others, and eight years later the composer created a three-movement solo version. In a stunning performance the artist achieved the sound and coloration of a full orchestra. His ability to bring clarity to every voice while making a blend of all the voices was breathtaking.

Stravinsky’s Danse Sacrale from the ballet The Rite of Spring followed, and the impact was sharply contrasted from the Petrushka performance. While well performed, the section (a maiden’s sacrificial dance to the death) features clashing, disturbing dissonances that sounded muddied and chaotic, as surely they do in the orchestral version. It is meant to be played in context of the complete ballet, and only then do its dissonances make full sense.

After intermission Mr. Khozyainov opened the second half with a verbal introduction to Sonatina Facile by the German composer Jörg Widmann (b. 1973). The pianist said the Sonatina “brings the past and present together to create the future,” and so it was with this spritely and surprising composition in three movements (allegro, andante, rondo). Each movement begins with a transposition of opening bars from Mozart’s C Major Sonata, K. 545. Rich in unexpected sonorities and pulsating rhythms, the Sonatina seems at first like a mash-up, as it’s part homage, part exploration of the new. The composer slides in tastes of a Bach fugue, a Chopin figuration, and tidbits from other composers as he explores new tonalities and compelling rhythms.

Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata, No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57, concluded the recital. Mr. Khozyainov’s beautiful performance was rich in feeling, balance, tempo and clear inner voices. As throughout, his pedaling achieved unusual clarity and balance of voices. One of the pianist’s great strengths is pulse – the quality of accentuating rhythms. His playing in the first and third movements was thrilling. In the early measures of the andante con moto variations with its chordal exchanges between hands, he brought out the left hand motive, explaining in a remark after the concert that the cello voice is meant to be emphasized. This served to make those opening passages darker emotionally while not overshadowing the lovely soprano lines.

In the end the audience didn’t want to let Mr. Khozyainov go, and the standing ovation went on so long that after three bows he returned to the piano and played Liszt’s Grand Galop Chromatique, a dazzling tour-de-force. Still, the ovation continued, and he returned to play Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1 with elegant sensitivity. Even that was not enough. The final encore was Busoni’s Sonatina No. 6, Fantasy on Themes from Bizet’s Opera “Carmen,” with changes made by the pianist.

Many members of the audience surrounded Mr. Khozyainov with congratulations and good wishes after the last encore before departing into the rainy night.