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Recital
ECLECTIC PIANISM IN SPRING LAKE VILLAGE VIRTUAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
During the pandemic The Santa Rosa Symphony’s virtual concerts received their due in performance praise, but another series, Spring Lake Village, more quietly presented monthly virtual concerts to a select local audience. May 5 saw the latest event, produced by impresario Robert Hayden, and feature...
Symphony
SONIC CONTRASTS HIGHLIGHT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SPRING PROGRAM
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 25, 2021
In a curious mixture of compositions, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s penultimate virtual concert of the season April 25 unfolded in ways both highly satisfying and a bit perplexing. Directed by resident Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong, the event followed a familiar format – several contemporary wor...
Symphony
ZUILL PLAYS ZWILICH WITH SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The Santa Rosa Symphony took a cautious step toward the return of live music in their March 28 virtual concert by sharing the stage with an actual live soloist rather than an apparition. Star cellist Zuill Bailey was still masked, and his back was toward the equally masked and plexiglassed orchestra...
Chamber
ECLECTIC CELLO PIANO VIRTUAL RECITAL FROM TOMKINS ZIVIAN DUO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2021
The venerable 41-year Redwood Arts Council Series in Occidental has joined the virtual recital world with low budget but artistically satisfying programs, mostly using videos filmed in the performer’s residences. March 28 saw the Tanya Tomkins-Eric Zivian duo present an eclectic program from their ...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HITS THE SWEET SPOT
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Small orchestras can inhabit a sweet spot between chamber ensembles and full orchestras, but how well they hit that spot depends on the composer's orchestration and the players' ability to project. That dependence was on full display in the Santa Rosa Symphony's Feb. 28 concert, which featured three...
Chamber
NOVEL OBOE-HARPSICHORD RECITAL FROM AIKEN DUO IN UKIAH
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 21, 2021
Oboe and harpsichord recitals are a rare North Bay event, even in a pandemic environment where a formal hall setting isn’t available. So it was a delight Feb. 21 to experience on the Ukiah Symphony’s website a recital by Symphony oboist Beth Aiken and harpsichordist husband Tom. The Aiken home vis...
Symphony
A HEALTHY MIX OF TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ORIGINALS FROM THE SR SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Transcriptions and ascending arpeggios were the order of the day on Jan. 24, as the Santa Rosa Symphony performed uplifting works by Bach/Webern, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Marianna Martínes and Mozart. The concert video was made in Weill Hall on Jan. 9. The first transcription was Webern’s 1935 renderi...
Symphony
HEROIC EFFORT FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 13, 2020
December 13 was a rainy day, perfect for huddling indoors and watching a prerecorded “live” performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony. The program was expansive, with music from the 18th through 21st centuries, and the mood was festive, in keeping with the holiday season. There was something in the fea...
Symphony
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....
RECITAL REVIEW

Lydia Artymiw Playing György Kurtag in Newman March 7

SHORT PIECES WITH A LONG REACH

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 7, 2010

It’s seldom that the high points of a piano recital are contained in repertoire that is short, dissonant, unfamiliar and mostly loud. At Lydia Artymiw’s March 7 recital for Concerts Grand in SRJC’s Newman Auditorium, the music of Kurtag and Messiaen had for this reviewer emotional impact far beyond their succinct duration and novel rhythms

Before a small audience of 63, Ms. Artymiw preceded the performance of three of Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus with a cogent analysis of Regard de l’Etoile (Gaze of the Star), Regard de la Vierge (Gaze of the Virgin) and Premiere Communion de la Vierge (First Communion of the Virgin). The commentary was minus any puffery and crisply connected the composer’s beliefs as a Catholic mystic with his infatuation with bird call motifs in music. The actual playing was vivid and intense in its story telling. For some the expressive use of rubato may have distracted from the numerological aspects, especially in the Regard de la Vierge, but everywhere the angular motives and contrasting lines were played consummate clarity. Was this first performance of any major Messiaen piano work in the local area?

Hungarian composer György Kurtag began in 1973 his “Játékok (“Games”) as a counterpart to his countryman Bartok’s “Mikrokosmos,” and is still composing additions at age 84. Ms. Artymiw chose seven segments, some lasting only 20 seconds, and each was full of avant garde technical explorations and intriguing silences. In their unique way they are a delight to the ear, cleansing any resemblance to the anniversary year of Chopin and Schumann. The Helyettem kis virag (Lovely greetings to Grete Spinnrad) was particularly alluring.

But it was with Schumann that the recital ended, his Fantasiestücke, Op. 12, receiving a fanciful reading with convincing rhythmic vigor throughout. Ms. Artymiw often stretched the breaks between phrases a bit too long, but the conceptions were thoroughly planned and played with a masterful touch and tone. The opening Des Abends was a sensual night song, the In der Nacht had multiple layers of melodic beauty in one hand, and in Traumes Wirren Ms. Artymiw's right-hand rotation technique was flawless. It wasn’t Schumann for the conventional taste.

In the same vein, Mozart’s B-Flat Major Sonata, K. 333, the recital’s opening work, was performed with stylistic authority and Ms. Artymiw’s handling of the bold harmonies in the Allegro. Her right-hand passage work was pellucid, and the cadenza in the concluding Allegretto grazioso (yes, a cadenza in a piano sonata) had just the right voicing leading to its inception. Mr. Artymiw is not afraid of making Mozart muscular, and is never in a hurry to make her artistic points.

There was one encore, Mendelssohn’s Venetian Boat Song No. 2, Op. 30, No. 6. Here there was close attention paid to subtle changes in volume, and the right-hand trills in E Sharp and C Sharp positively shimmered. The final descent to the piannissimo F Sharp was played with a hint of mystery.

The reviewer is the producer of Concerts Grand, and Marin pianist Ken Iisaka contributed to the commentary.