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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

Violinist Alexander Barantschik

BARANTSCHIK AND FUKUHARA IN GLOWING FOUR SONATA NEWMAN RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 15, 2012

The program for Alexander Barantschik’s violin recital Jan. 15 in Newman Auditorium was not at first glance auspicious. And not because of the merits of the four sonatas, as all are masterpieces of the standard repertoire. The critical quandary was that the program was so conventional, the pieces comfortable for the artist, who as the San Francisco Symphony Concertmaster presumably has minimal practice time in less-often-played repertoire. Sonatas by Elgar, Faure, Respighi, Dohnanyi, Paderewski, Strauss, Rubinstein, Busoni, Reger and St. Saens would have been welcome for a Sonoma County audience.

And lowering the bar for an orthodox music menu, Mr. Barantschik’s partner in the San Francisco Symphony, Robin Sutherland, was unable to play and on short notice Akimi Fukuhara replaced him at the piano, flying in from Japan.

All this in hand, how was the playing in what was offered? Very fine indeed, beginning with Beethoven’s first Sonata in D Major, Op. 12, No. 1. Playing from score as he did all afternoon (understandable given a new pianist), Mr. Barantschik’s reading had a light touch throughout, echoed by the lovely and fast scales from his partner, her trills in both hands shimmering. A wider vibrato characterized the Andante con Moto second movement, still with a chaste tone. The tempos were brisk in the finale with Ms. Fukuhara pushing the pace and underlining subtle off-beat dissonances. Mr. Barantschik carefully controlled the final short chords, eliminating vibrato on several and then deftly adding it at the penultimate three.

Brahms’ G Major Sonata, Op. 78, closed the first half and began in a stately, almost leisurely way. It was a performance under the violinist’s complete bow control, and perhaps on balance a little understated. Mr. Barantschik’s tone could be slightly dry at times, particularly in fast passages close to the bridge, but always rich in the lower registers. Ms. Fukuhara chose not to emphasize a sonorous bass at the movement’s end, producing a muted sound, but Mr. Barantschik preceded his final two chords with old fashioned appoggiaturas. A lovely conceit.

The following Adagio unfolded with great charm, the highlight being a threnody line for the violin romantically played over a soft ostinato piano part. The concluding Allegro molto brings back themes from the first two movements and Mr. Barantschik wove them into a rich Brahmsian fabric that was both tender and contented.

Following a long intermission the audience returned for two more expertly-played sonatas, Mozart’s E Minor (K. 304) and the great Franck in A Major. The two-movement Mozart work, a Parisian sonata from 1778, was performed with an elegant interplay of voices. The instrumental balances were good and only in a few isolated places the artists were not in sync. The piano sporadically covered the violin line in the Tempo di menuetto in this Beethovenesque work, but careful legato and even chord playing from the duo produced musical optimism (when in E Major) from the prevailing sad tone of the entire piece.

Franck’s Sonata was admired by his contemporaries and has been a staple for virtuosos since the Ysaÿe premiere in 1886. Mr. Barantschik phrased the graceful opening movement with great care and Ms. Fukuhara’s piano part had larger sonority and impact than in the previous works. The reverse characterized the fiery and turbulent Allegro, Ms. Fukuhara’s scales quicksilver but lacking needed heft in the bass, and the violinist’s thematic projection potent in his top range. In the improvisatory Recitativo the music soared, the playing the finest of the concert. Mr. Barantschik held the fermata at the end, a captivating effect.

This richness of the duet continued in the canonic finale (Allegretto), each instrument playing off the other with majesty, the bits of previous movement themes masterly interwoven and leading to an exalted ascending violin scale and piano run at the end. It was a fervent and committed Franck throughout.

A standing ovation from the audience of 190 erupted, and despite repeated curtain calls, there was no encore to extend what was arguably the best local violin recital since Mr. Barantschik's colleague, Nadia Tichman, played four years ago in Oakmont.