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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, October 31, 2010
Jassen Todorov, violin
William Corbett-Jones, piano

Jassen Todorov and William Corbett-Jones In Newman Auditorium Oct. 31

TODOROV AND CORBETT-JONES PERFORM DRAMATIC THREE-SONATA RECITAL IN NEWMAN

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 31, 2010

After a long dry spell Sonoma County seems to be seeing a flood tide of fine violin playing. David McCarroll, Roy Malan, Michael Ludwig and Vadim Gluzman have played recent concerts, and San Francisco State University Professors Jassen Todorov and William Corbett-Jones continued the trend in a dramatic recital Oct. 31 in SRJC’s Newman Auditorium for the Concerts Grand series.

Before an audience of 112, sprinkled with string players, Tartini’s G Minor Sonata (Devil’s Trill) launched the program. It’s a walk in the park for the piano part but technically demanding for the violin. Mr. Todorov handled the long cadenza, penned by Fritz Kreisler, with aplomb and plenty of trills of varying speeds and intensity. The Andante was especially effective, its repose needed from the restless nature of the work. There isn’t much for the piano to do here but Mr. Corbett-Jones, a long-time favorite for audiences in Santa Rosa, ably contributed the continuo line.

Things changed with Respighi’s brawny Sonata in B Minor, rarely heard and a composition that was received with anticipation by many, as only the Heifetz-Bay recording from 1950 has gained any notice, at least compared with contemporary sonatas by Strauss, Busoni, St. Saens and Elgar. Composed in 1917 and reflecting the carnage of World War I, the Sonata is a dark odyssey, bright at times but ultimately a sad travail with vocal lines in high string registers and rumbling tremolos and rapid left-hand passages for the pianist. Mr. Todorov was up to the demands of the writing, taking judicious tempos in each of the three movements, his not large but fully penetrating tone carrying throughout Newman’s less-than-reverberant acoustics. The lovely Andante Espressivo was played in the Romantic vein but also impressionistically, the violinist deftly phrasing the music and mirroring the piano line. In the concluding Passacaglia the performers had difficulty staying together, the necessary momentum slipping away before Mr. Corbett-Jones’ descending double octaves brought the Sonata to a rousing end. Mr. Todorov, with a powerful F Sharp-D-B passage, graciously gave the last sound to his partner. It was a performance that wasn’t ready for a microphone but still elicited a standing ovation and the assembly knowing it had heard a trenchant violin work of prismatic passion.

Order was restored after intermission with the famous Beethoven A Major Sonata, Op. 47 (Kreutzer), a performance that found both musicians on familiar ground. This is a Sonata played by every virtuoso violinist, the two propulsive outer movements framing a quiet Andante con variazoni in the placid key of F Major. The duo had plenty of frenzied competition in the opening Adagio Sostenuto – Presto, Mr. Todorov’s bow often slashing in figurations and digging deep into the stormy sections.

The finale was performed in a more playful and generous mode, the accents telling and sharply opposed to the heroic nature of the first movement. In summary, this is a radical work, written in 1803 with the Eroica Symphony, and Messrs. Todorov and Corbett-Jones made the most of the Sonata’s architecture, underscoring the rhetoric without opting for a reading that would fill a larger hall.

Two encores were offered, the second a "perpetuum mobile" performance of François Schubert’s (1808 - 1878) innocuous “L’Abielle” (The Bee), redolent with Mr. Todorov’s speedy left-hand slurred crossings. However, it was the first encore, Tchaikowsky’s melancholy “Melody in E” from the Brailovo Suite, that generated rapt silence in the hall. It was Oistrakh’s encore in his American debut recital, and here as in 1955 there were not many dry eyes in the house.

The reviewer is the producer of the Concerts Grand series