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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....
CHAMBER REVIEW
The Thursday Musical Club / Thursday, November 18, 2010
Kenn Gartner, piano

Kenn Gartner Speaks of Composer Robert Palmer Nov. 18 in Tiburon

GARTNER'S ECLECTIC PIANISM FEATURED IN TIBURON RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kenn Gartner is Marin’s eclectic pianist, and his playing Nov. 18 during a short recital in Tiburon’s Community Congregational Church underscored his inquisitive musical and intellectual nature.

Sponsored by the decades-old Thursday Musical Club, the concert featured mostly familiar music of Bach, Haydn, Liszt and Chopin, but with many unconventional touches. Mr. Gartner performed most of these pieces March 21 in a recital for Concerts Grand at San Rafael’s J-B Piano Store, but in the charming hilltop church setting his playing was more secure, expansive and engaging.

Haydn’s E Minor Sonata, Hob. XVI, began the recital in an aggressive style but with surprisingly little pedal. This approach helped clarity throughout the Sonata, as the room’s acoustics were hampered throughout by muffled sound above a mezzo forte. The Adagio was characterized by arching lines in the right hand, even trills and precise block chords. The vivace molto finale again was lightly pedaled but lacked sonic differentiation and subtlety of phrase.

Mr. Gartner seemed to be aiming at harpsichord effects in Bach’s popular Concerto in the Italian Style (S. 971), a three-movement work that demands artistic individuality. The pianist provided same with small appoggiaturas, expressive arpeggios and inner voices in the left hand. He arpeggiated the last chords in the first and final movements, a welcome romantic touch, and held the middle movement penultimate chord pianissimo before deftly resolving into the single note in g. Lovely indeed.

Liszt’s Third Liebestraum, originally a song for low voice and piano, received a justly lyrical performance with a long pedal fermata at the middle, emphasizing the picturesque nature of an evanescent love dream. There were pianistic and memory problems in the performance, ultimately offset by some pearly right-hand scale passages.

American composer Robert Palmer, a teacher of Mr. Gartner, died in July at 95, and the pianist, after an emotional spoken introduction to the audience of 80, played Palmer's popular Toccata Ostinato. Room acoustics aside, the clangorous composition was presented with rhythmic power, differentiation of sound and striking left-hand chords running up and down the keyboard. The loud and curt sforzando ending caught many in hall by surprise. The dissonances and boogie-woogie style still are effective, though the piece was composed as long ago as 1945.

Chopin completed the recital, beginning with the two masterful Nocturnes from Op. 27. The C-Sharp Minor was true to the score, the piu mosso (bar 29) and agitato (measure 53) sections carefully observed. Mr. Gartner favored half pedal in the lyrical return of the modulated theme and produced a captivating ending ascending phrase and C Sharp chord. In The D-Flat Nocturne, a seminal masterpiece, the playing was frankly old fashioned with broken chords and many subtle points of rubato. Some of the right-hand runs did not sound, and in the coda the ascending chordal run in sixths was troublesome for the pianist. A rollicking reading of Chopin’s B Minor Scherzo, Op. 20, finished the formal program, the pianist throwing caution to the winds in the restless first theme and the fiery and taxing coda.

The energetic applause produced two encores, the first Respighi’s Notturno. Here Mr. Gartner emphasized the flowing melody over a gently lapping chordal accompaniment. It has become almost a signature piece for the pianist and recalled a lazy warm summer afternoon rather than the cool November breezes outside. It was followed by Moszkowski's F Major study, from the Op. 76 "Etude de Virtuosité," a favorite of Horowitz and Pletnev and, in Mr. Gartner's performance, a delectable bon bon for the audience.