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Choral and Vocal
A SEASONAL MESSIAH WITH BALANCE AND HEFT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 10, 2017
The mid-December concert season seems for jaded reviewers to invariably include a Messiah performance, and perhaps a Messiah in a long string of similar and mundane performances. This was decidedly not the case when San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque mounted Handel’s eminent three-part 1742 Orato...
Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
CHAMBER REVIEW

HALIDA DINOVA PLAYING SCRIABIN'S PRELUDE IN D AT JB PIANO

SHORT WORKS PROVE LONG ON CHARM

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 12, 2009

Russian pianist Halida Dinova returned to familiar territory on Feb. 12 — the recital stage at San Rafael’s JB Piano Emporium — and produced a concert short on major repertoire works but long on charm and drama. The small audience well knew what would be forthcoming: an evening of virtuoso playing, the best post-recital reception in Marin and a collegial atmosphere of shared musical delight.

The evening’s single work of extended duration, Haydn’s E-Flat Sonata (XVI 52), received a leisurely but sympathetic reading, surprising as the outer movements are usually played at high speed and the rhythmically complex Adagio given a greater dose of naughty humor. Dinova’s scales were masterful, never more so than in the finale, and the repeated note figures were brilliantly delivered. She nearly lost momentum several times in the first movement, overly prolonging the silences between the long phrases, but Haydn requires a delicate balance between artistic repose and ongoing urgency. The many hand crossings and off-beat accents were managed with perfection. Here and there little touches emerged — a rolled chord at the end of the Adagio, the elegant arpeggiated chords throughout the finale — and her crystalline scales were displayed throughout every passage, slightly staccato.

The rest of the recital consisted of twelve short works, perhaps a fitting farewell to a lengthy West Coast tour and a desire to disclose to local piano fans a wide variety of composers. She opened with two Chopin Waltzes from Op. 64, playing each with large tempo fluctuations that continued in a third and equally brilliant waltz, the E Minor, published after Chopin’s early death.

Debussy’s magnificent Reflet dans l’eau was the highlight of the concert, its arpeggios and cascading figurations resplendently performed. Dinova elicited an iridescent spectrum of color from the JB Emporium’s Grotrian 280 piano, both here and in a languorous but especially lovely Claire de lune.

Scriabin came next, the early Op. 11 Prelude in D properly wistful, and the composer’s most popular work, the thunderous Etude in D-Flat from Op. 12, which the dancer Isadora Duncan once described as a depiction of the suffering of the Russian people. Dinova playing of the Etude was dramatic without any pounding, even though she played the original version of the Etude score with the forte ending chords.

Tchaikovsky was also on the program, with the final two parts “The Seasons,” Op. 37b. Both the “Troika” and the concluding waltz “Christmas” were rendered with telling grace and rhythmic flexibility. Dinova’s supple left hand and chaste tone provided an object lesson that compositional mastery is most easily experienced in succinct pieces.

Four Rachmaninoff works ended the program, the most tempestuous being the E-Flat Etude Tableaux from Op. 33. Here all the elements were brought into sharp relief, and the broad melodic line was alternatively declamatory and elegiac. The three Preludes (Op. 23, No. 6; Op. 32, No. 5; and the popular Op. 23) seemed almost an anticlimax after the resounding Etude. Nonetheless, Dinova’s control of pianissimo and half pedal were breathtaking. One example: the last three chords of G-Major Prelude of Op. 32. Here each was invested with its individual personality, the pause between each was fragile, the melancholy palpable.

Two encores were offered, a Mendelssohn Scherzo with elfin octave playing, and Liszt’s transcription of Schubert’s song “The Miller and the Brook.” Curiously the last was unsuccessful, as Dinova’s attack was harsh, the nostalgic charm lost in clangor and a lack of repose.

Though Dinova’s selections were mostly brief, she is a pianist with formidable interpretative and technical powers, and her recital was equal to her memorable JB recital of 2006, when she conquered the audience with the complete Chopin Preludes.