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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
RECITAL REVIEW

Pianist Einav Yarden

BRILLIANT HAYDN SONATA HIGHLIGHTS YARDEN'S JUNE 9 OAKMONT RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, June 9, 2011

Oakmont’s popular concert series, now in its 20th year, usually programs just two pianists in a 12-concert season. However, producer Robert Hayden’s eclectic taste guarantees that the selected pianists will play provocative works, and it was again so June 9 when Israeli artist Einav Yarden presented a bifurcated program before 150 in Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium.

In an admirable first half, Ms. Yarden began with the 11 Beethoven Bagatelles, Op. 119, a change from the announced Op. 33 Bagatelles. These are amazing works, a few just 15 seconds in lengths, and encompass snippets of the Bonn master’s endless invention. Many feature a light staccato touch in which the pianist excels, but others (the fourth and tenth) are fast, scattered and insistent. Ms. Yarden caught the ephemeral nature of the works, presenting a conception that nothing additional needed to be said about each.

Seven of Bartok’s 14 Op. 6 Bagatelles followed, obviously harmonically different than Beethoven but also requiring quick tempo changes and clear articulation. The atmospheric third Bagatelle was followed by dramatic marching chords in the fourth and virtuosic heraldry in the final seventh. Ms. Yarden made the dissonances, perhaps grating even at their composition in 1908, seem of a piece and natural. The pianist can float a lovely pianissimo when the music demands. It was a strong performance and drew fulsome applause.

Haydn’s D Major Sonata, Hob. XVI: 24, completed the first half and received a masterful reading from the pianist. The opening Allegro featured a quick tempo, distinctive lines and chaste pedal. Ms. Yarden’s finger staccato added clarity and Haydn’s humor and charm were in evidence throughout. Mention must be made of the pianist’s wonderful scale playing, even in difficult hand positions and where off-beat accents are called for in the score. The slow movement (Adagio) had a sense of mystery and the pianist’s even trills and control of balances were exemplary. The right-hand runs in the finale were brilliant, the legato used in some scales for contrast. A deft touch. It was for this reviewer the best Haydn Sonata played in the local area in years, and the highlight of the recital.

Two Schumann songs in Liszt transcriptions opened the second half and were less than congenial for the pianist. The Frühlingsnacht, from the Liederkreis, Op. 39, No. 12, gave the pianist technical trouble, albeit with a judicious tempo that allowed subtlety. There was no shimmering magic in the repeated chords. The celebrated Widmung transcription, in the first of two versions Liszt wrote, was tentative and in the declamatory sections brittle and lacking fervor.

Closing the recital was Schumann’s great C Major Fantasie, Op. 17, one of the glories of 19th Century romantic pianism. Here Ms. Yarden was more in her element, giving a performance of abundant character without being really memorable. The first movement was played at a moderate tempo and with command, but the dynamic extremes needed to underline what Schumann said were his most passionate utterances were missing. The final resolution into C Major, at a place the pianist Moritz Rosenthal said only occurred just before the allusion to a Beethoven song, was tender and properly lingering.

The middle march movement was not tentative but was also not orchestral, the pianist choosing to underplay the marcato elements. It was not a note-perfect movement in the coda but the perilous contrary-motion skips prior to the final three chords were taken with precision and speed. In a middle-of-the-road performance Schumann’s exaltation with ardor and pianistic sound were absent.

The sonorous finale was had the requisite flow and both of the climaxes had power and led inexorably to the quiet postlude. Here the concert piano almost seems to lack hammers and Ms. Yarden brought forth the most tonal colors and musical contemplation of the afternoon. After many seconds of silence a standing ovation greeted the conclusion of the Fantasie, but no encore was offered.

Ms. Yarden, in her first extended tour of Sonoma County, appeared on the Charles Sepos KRCB “Curtain Call” program June 10 and in a posh private recital for Concerts Grand June 11 in Santa Rosa.