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MASKED SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CARRIES ON BRILLIANTLY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 15, 2020
In some ways the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Nov. 15 concert on YouTube resembled a Conceptual Art performance from the 1970s. On display were about 30 masked orchestral musicians playing six feet apart from each other on stage, some of them separated by plexiglass barriers. In the 1970s, the concept behi...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
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...
CHAMBER REVIEW

Dmitry and Yulia Kouzov Feb. 14 in Sebastopol

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 opening, and cellist Dmitry Kouzov dug deeply into the strings at times, adding heft to what is a frothy piece that lasted just under 10 minutes. Pianist Yulia Kouzova played fluently and added to the beguiling effects of the composer’s unceasing originality.

The mood sharply changed with Brahms’ E Minor Sonata, Op. 38, and the Duo captured the dark colors and the cello line’s solemn march theme than never seems to rise into the high register. Mr. Kouzov is an artist with lots of head and body movement (many cellists do this) and used a wide vibrato in most of the work’s wonderful and brawny themes. The Church’s acoustics were direct with little reverberation, and the Allegro’s ending chord was lovely, the cello (low) and the piano (high) a fifth apart.

The middle movement was played with a graceful minuet between shorter outer sections, and the piano line never covered the cello. The fugal finale was played with off-beat accents and momentum, but Ms. Kouzova had difficulty with fast scales in the accelerando towards the end. Piano action repetition might have been the culprit, or the tempo was too brisk.

It was an exciting reading of Brahms' work from 1866, and following intermission Beethoven’s C Major Sonata, Op. 102, No. 1, was substituted for the originally announced Bach Second Suite. Well, it’s the Beethoven year, and the lyrical beginning was like a flower opening in serenity. Ms. Kouzov’s trills were even and, like much in late Beethoven, extended in length and often expressive.

This Sonata is quite different from its tumultuous predecessor (in A Major, Op. 69) and is harmonically complex, with many short thematic phrases and none of the somber nature of the Brahms. The Kouzovs deftly managed the many tempo changes and spotlighted the dissonances. It was a bright and challenging interpretation, and the evening’s highlight.

Completing the recital was a performance of Martinu’s spontaneous tour-de-force Variations on a Theme of Rossini, Op. 290, from 1942. The original theme was from the opera “Moses in Egypt,” and Paganini’s use of the theme was also a model for the composer. Regardless, the Kouzov Duo put the tune through its virtuosic paces, at times letting the piano and cello sound at cross-purposes. They played the many crescendos, decrescendos and stormy parts, with cello slides and the exciting coda brilliantly.

A standing ovation generated an encore of an opposite texture and mood, a transcription of Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, a Romance from Op. 34, No. 12. Here Mr. Kouzov beautifully matched the original vocal part in rich tone color, perfectly aligned with a sensitive pianissimo from his partner.

Pianist Andreas Klein performs at the next RAC concert March 20 in the Occidental Center for the Arts.