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SIX GUITARISTS IN UNIQUE NAPA RECITAL
by Gary Digman
Sunday, July 25, 2021
The first Napa Valley Guitar Festival was held at Napa’s First Presbyterian Church July 25, and featured performances from six classical guitarists. The Church is an iconic structure in downtown Napa, its huge white presence dominating the scene, and the white theme continues inside punctuated by be
Chamber
CLARA SCHUMANN TRIO COMMANDS VOM CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT AT HANNA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 24, 2021
The Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Series has begun several virtual and a few live concerts in its new seventh season, some broadcast from Sonoma’s Hanna Center Hall and some in posh local venues. July 24’s video had a small live audience and a well-produced video program of three works. Titled “
Chamber
EXEMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MENDO FESTIVAL FT. BRAGG CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Faced with the impossibility of presenting concerts in the iconic large white tent on the bluff, the Mendocino Music Festival opted to use Ft. Bragg’s Cotton Auditorium for ten events in the abbreviated 35th season. San Francisco’s Alexander String Quartet played July 21 to a fully masked audience
Chamber
ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING AT PIANOSONOMA CONCERT IN SCHROEDER HALL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
After a dark year bereft of live performance, pianoSonoma launched July 20 the first Vino & Vibrato concert of the 2021 season in Sonoma State's Schroeder Hall, albeit sadly senza vino due to Covid protocols. Three exceptional musicians showered the audience with an interesting variety of pia
Chamber
RARELY-PLAYED SCHUMANN HIGHLIGHTS HEALDSBURG RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 10, 2021
Brave New Music sporadically produces concerts in and around Healdsburg, and July 10’s violin recital in downtown St. Paul’s Church must have been one of the first post-lockdown, post-be-extra-careful classical music concerts in Sonoma County's summer season. New Music Founder Gary McLaughlin with
Chamber
ECHOS ON A WARM SUMMER NIGHT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, July 10, 2021
ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s first concert in a year and a half, “A Musical Promenade,” was a promenade indeed. When patrons arrived at San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for the 6:00 performance July 10, they were funneled through the garden to the Duncan Hall patio, where folding chairs were set
Chamber
LONG DISTANCE LOVE BEGINS VOM SUMMER FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Thursday, June 24, 2021
The Valley of the Moon Music Festival offered a 7th season preview June 24 with a stunning online concert, aptly named Long Distance Love, featuring inspired performances of Beethoven's short song cycle An die ferne Geliebte,, and selections from Brahms’ beloved Liebeslieder Wal
Recital
ROMERO'S ARTISTRY IN SLV RECITAL PROGRAMMING AND PERFORMANCE
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Gustavo Romero has been an admired visitor to North Bay stages, playing over a decade recitals at Dominican University, the Music at Oakmont concerts and at the Spring Lake Village Concert Series. He returned June 2 to SLV in a virtual recital, videoed from his home concert hall the University of N
RUBICON'S VIRTUAL CONCERT A MALANGE OF CONTRASTS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 16, 2021
The inaugural concert of a new Mendocino County chamber group is a reason for celebration, and the Rubicon Trio made the most of a mixed musical menu during a May16 virtual concert. Presented by the Ukiah Symphony Orchestra as the last in their “Salons with the Symphony” Series, the Rubicon began w
Recital
PIANO VIRTUOSITY IN YAKUSHEV'S REDWOOD ARTS RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev’s recital for the Redwood Arts Council was perhaps the local season’s virtual music at the greatest distance, as the filming May 16 came from a church in St. Petersburg. And good filming it was, with multiple camera viewpoints of the church, full and split screens and
REVIEW

Pianist Nina Tichman

CRYSTALLINE SCHUBERT

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nina Tichman is a pianist with an artistic vision that puts clarity and proportion above all else. In her Oakmont Concert Series recital March 10, one of many she has played in Berger Auditorium, these sterling qualities perfectly served the concert’s opening music of Schubert, in this case the E Flat Sonata from 1817, D. 568.

Ms. Tichman’s subtle phrasing and nuanced cantabile, added to the bright treble of the piano, caught inimitably the wistful nature of the opening movement. Damper pedal was judiciously applied and there was a light touch throughout. The G Minor Andante Molto movement was played with mystery, almost a question and answer, and was lovely. Often Schubert’s piano sonatas can seem far too long, but it’s a heavenly length for musicians, and in the final three movements there was not a forced note or an unclear phrase. The long lines were relaxed and the many modulations in the finale deftly rendered. It was a perfectly chaste reading of a rarely-played score and for me the recital’s highlight.

Chopin’s often played Polonaise Fantasie, Op. 61, followed, and Ms. Tichman continued in a lyrical and understated vein. There was no sonic emphasis on the bass notes at the opening, and the pianist was in no hurry to stress the tone poem parts of this marvelous composition. It was a restrained performance, the loose formal structure proving no obstacle for Ms. Tichman’s transparent playing, the forward-looking chromatic harmonies unfolding in sharp relief. The final A flat chord, marked Fortissimo, was played that way, breaking the quiet of the long tenuto and soft left-hand trills.

After intermission four of Debussy’s 12 Etudes from 1915 were heard, pieces rarely seen on a concert program. Walter Gieseking thought the set as difficult as either of Chopin’s Ops. 10 and 25, and Ms. Tichman began with Pour les tierces and Pour les Degrés chromatiques. The latter was the more interesting, the artist’s right hand busy in perpetual motion and the left hand quickly playing in the treble. The barcarolle-like Pour les Agréments contained parts of Debussy’s La Cathedral engloutie and here the pedaling was precise and embellishments telling. The final Pour les Octaves was brilliantly played, but at a moderate tempo.

Contemporary composer Stefan Heucke (b. 1959) has written many compositions with stark social themes, and has just completed a set of Preludes, Op. 61, that incorporates Schumann’s imaginative comment about Chopin’s Preludes: “sketches, ruins and eagle wings.” Ms. Tichman played four from score, the In Moto Scorrendo and Molto moderato Preludes reflecting Chopin’s muse, at least on an initial hearing. The former had a whirl of notes, many sections in contrary motion, and great washes of sound with the damper pedal. The Molto moderato had a polonaise flavor, but one with a dissonant nobility. The pianist played the final Prelude (Sehr langsam und schwer) as a dirge march, deep bass notes sounding as tone clusters and contrasting with chords high in the treble. The effect was intense but never offensive. These are robust works.

Concluding the recital were three short Rachmaninoff works, beginning with the early Polichinelle from Op. 3. It’s not an ingratiating work, perhaps because of its meandering length, similar in rhythms to the compact and powerful Oriental Sketch of 1917. The pianist played it well but the G-Sharp Minor Prelude of Op. 32 quickly overshadowed the Polichinelle. Here Ms. Tichman’s ringing sonorities resembled sleigh bells on a snowy Russian night, musical clarity and lucid textures again her achieved goal.

The D Major Etude-Tableaux, Op. 39, No. 9, is a work of high drama, a formidable task for a pianist with lots of big chords. Ms. Tichman adopted a sober tempo, underscoring the work’s architecture at the expense of weighty sonority, and the approach did not quite unlock Rachmaninoff’s passion and powerful rhythmic surges.

No encore was offered.