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Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
RECITAL REVIEW

J. Vieaux and A. A. Meyers Backstage in Weill (Green Music Center Photo)

SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT

by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019

Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies together, they shared exquisite music to an appreciative audience of 900.

One pleasure of hearing two master musicians is that there are seemingly few barriers to what they can do. The musical world is their sonic oyster. Ms. Meyers often commissions contemporary composers and premieres arrangements and new works, and arranges some herself. Mr. Vieaux performs worldwide with diverse ensembles and seems up for anything.

Corelli’s Sonata in D Minor, Op. 5, No. 12, arranged for violin and guitar by Andy Poxon, opened the program with a flourish. Subtitled “La Folia,” it grandly states its theme, and then unravels variations delightful in their inventiveness. Ms. Meyers explored Corelli’s stylistic innovations for the violin with a universe of bowing effects. Mr. Vieaux strummed and plucked and arpeggiated chords through the wide range of sound of which the classical guitar is capable. It was a rousing opener with a distinctly Spanish flair.

Glass’ Metamorphosis II, from his five-movement piano suite composed in the late 1980s, followed. It was arranged for violin and guitar by Michael Riesman, Music Director of the Philip Glass Ensemble, and it is stunning. The guitar’s minimalist, repetitive, broken thirds were a haunting ostinato for the violin’s simple yet rich rising and falling melody, leading into rapid and delicate arpeggios, like rapidly beating wings, and was soon answered by Mr. Vieaux’s own finger-flying arpeggios. All the playing circled back to the beginning ruminations before a poignant ending.

Piazzolla’s “Histoire du Tango,” a four-movement suite from 1986, brought the spirit of the cafés and bordellos of Argentina into Weill Hall. Mr. Vieaux was clearly on home ground, dispensing with scores for the rest of the program. He has performed this work with the traditional Argentine bandoneón instrument, and it was the bandoneón’s special sound that Ms. Meyers evoked in her playing – bold sensuality and rawness, manifested through the versatility of her bow. Resonance and soul and irresistible rhythms flowed from the duo in this work. Each section takes on a different era: “Bordello, circa 1900,” brings a turn-of-the-century spirit of nightlife of Buenos Aires. “Night Club, 1960” presents the “new tango,” full of longing and fulfillment, danced in clubs. “Modern-Day Concert” intertwines tango with American jazz and the music of Eastern European composers such as Bartok and Stravinsky, whose influence was felt in Europe when Piazzolla lived in Paris. There is always a knife-edge to the tango, and the duo’s interpretation brought out that dark element as well as unfettered joy.

Following intermission, Ms. Meyers alone played her arrangement for solo violin of Kojo No Tsuki (The Moon Over the Ruined Castle), by Rentaro Taki. A simple Japanese folk tune in the pentatonic scale morphs into an exploration of sound. Meant to evoke a ruined Japanese medieval castle in the moonlight, it suggests the turbulence of life through times of war when it was alive with intrigue. A composer and pianist during the Meiji period, Taki traveled to Leipzig to further his musical studies, falling ill after a year and returning to Japan, where he died, possibly from tuberculosis, at 23. It was a lovely and intriguing piece played with great sensitivity.

Mr. Vieaux then took the stage for a solo, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa nova tune “A Felicidade,” which was the main theme of the film “Black Orpheus.” He introduced the piece by calling Jobin “perhaps the greatest popular songwriter of the 20th century.” His performance fully communicated the excitement and intensity of Carnival in Brazil.

The duo reunited for a John Corigliano “Lullaby for Natalie,” which Ms. Meyers told the audience was close to her heart; she had commissioned the work when she was pregnant with her first daughter, Natalie, now eight. Natalie was in the audience, and eyes turned to the orchestra section when the girl rose from the seats she shared with her father and younger sister. Her mother continued that the piece is Natalie’s preferred lullaby (her sister’s favorite is “Spiegel im Spiegel” by Arvo Pärt). “You’re welcome to go to sleep, honey,” Ms. Meyers concluded, smiling. The Corigliano furnished another instance among many this evening when the two instruments and two performers were especially well-suited, each sustaining a personality and voice, each discernible while blending transparently.

The artists concluded the program with five of De Falla’s “Siete Canciones Populares Española” (1914). This dazzling work has been arranged for all manner of ensembles. Dashing through moods, swelling and growing, it is heartrending music with a constant, compelling pulse. After its final notes, the audience gave the artists a standing ovation. As an encore, Ms. Meyers, admitting she “loves Elvis Presley,” joined Mr. Vieaux in playing a song Presley made popular, “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss. The performers gave it a Scottish-Irish lilt, and the richly diverse evening ended on a sentimental note.