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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
Concerts Grand / Sunday, March 28, 2010
Zeynep Ucbasaran, Pianist

Zeynep Ucbasaran Receives Applause after Liszt's Grand Paraphrase

CHOPIN SCHERZOS FEATURED IN UCBASARAN RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chopin’s bicentennial received another boost March 28 as pianist Zeynep Ucbasaran played a Newman Auditorium concert devoted mostly to the works of the great Polish master.

In the penultimate series recital in the seventh Concerts Grand season, Ms. Ucbasaran presented a program built around three of the Scherzos, with bookends of Adnan Saygun’s Aksak Studies one through five, and a Liszt paraphrase. The richly chromatic Polonaise-Fantaisie, Op. 61, from late in Chopin’s short life, was added to the mix, replacing several short works and the “Heroic” Polonaise. Scherzo is defined as a musical joke, but Chopin’s four are hardly that. Each (the popular B-Flat, No. 2, was omitted) contains virtuosic writing with cascades of notes, many repeats and lots of fortissimo.

In the first Scherzo in B Minor, Op. 20, Ms. Ucbasaran underlined the work’s restless nature, making the theme on the contrasting lyric section more pronounced. The C-Sharp Minor (No. 3) opened with the requisite presto con fuoco tempo and a lovely the chorale-like melody in D Flat. The spray of leggierissimo arpeggios were played well, if a bit repetitiously and often too quickly. The final Scherzo in E Major, Op. 54, was played with a deliberate tempo and found the pianist being taxed technically and without a big sound, though Ms. Ucbasaran gave the vocal piu lento section a languorous and nostalgic reading.

In the A Flat Polonaise-Fantaisie the music became under the artist’s fingers a small tone poem, the opening chords creating sufficient mystery to give the impression of continuous organic growth of the themes. The loose formal structure of this unique work makes it difficult to hold together, but Ms. Ucbasaran had all under control. The three sets of trills in both hands during the middle of the Polonaise were crystal clear.

Turkish composer Saygun’s Aksak sketches began the concert, music as unfamiliar to the 80 attending as it was well received. As a compatriot of the composer, Ms. Ucbasaran plays these works (from 1969) with special flair and rhythmic excitement, and has recorded them. The piquant sonorities were refreshing and the tempos were relaxed and the phrasing elegant.

At the end of Liszt’s touring career he found himself in Istanbul, and after hearing a theme from Donizetti’s brother (the composer in residence) he wrote a Grand Paraphrase de la Marche de Giuseppe Donizetti, and dedicated it to Sultan Abdul-Medjid Kahn. Surely a premiere performance in the North Bay, Ms. Ucbasaran gave the tough repeated notes and swirls of sound a fast ride. But it’s bottom-drawer Liszt, not comparable to the great operatic paraphrases of Verdi, Bellini, Wagner and Mozart. It was good to hear a novelty, but the music faded quickly after the pianist took bows to loud applause.

Two encores were offered, beginning with Chopin’s delicate triplet finger study in the Etude in F Minor, Op. 25, No. 2. The second was 20 measures from ending of the Third Scherzo, a strange abbreviation with yet more fleet and strident notes.

The reviewer is the producer of the Concerts Grand series.