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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....
RECITAL REVIEW

Alexander Kobrin and Boris Andrianov in Occidental (K. Broderson photo)

BRILLIANT RUSSIAN DUO IN REDWOOD ARTS COUNCIL OCCIDENTAL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 11, 2012

It’s a rare occurrence in a cello recital that each programmed piece was both a masterwork of the literature and flawlessly performed, admitting nothing but awe and warm satisfaction from even the most seasoned string aficionado.

Such was the thrilling Redwood Arts Council recital of Boris Andrianov Feb. 11 in Occidental's Performing Arts Center before a packed house of 200. How does a flawless cello recital unfold? First a powerful pianist is needed, and the Russian Virtuoso Alexander Kobrin is just that. Next, a serious and demanding program is expected. No David Popper or Julius Klengel pieces. Finally, the cellist has to have a powerful interpretative personality, similar to but distinct from artists such as Casals, Piatigorsky, Rostropovich and DuPre.

Mr. Andrianov has this artistic stature and proved it quickly in the evening's initial work, Beethoven's C Major Sonata of Op. 102. The haunting opening theme moved effortlessly into the lyrical second theme and Mr. Andrianov underscored the many subtle dynamic contrasts. The Montagnana cello seemed to “growl” caressingly in the Adagio, preceding the introduction to the finale that alluded deftly to the first movement. Both artists securely built the momentum in a seamless partnership but kept distinct voices.

The first half closed with Britten’s Op. 65 Sonata in C, a commanding piece from 1961 in five disparate movements. The furious sections of musical interplay found Mr. Kobrin note perfect and never afraid of his left hand power, and Mr. Andrianov’s cello rich in the bottom register. The pizzicato opening of the Scherzo was magical, the plucking in the cello expected but Mr. Kobrin elicited nearly identical sound from his hammered string piano! His running passages were always clearly articulated, continuing into a perfectly balanced slow march of the Lento, the cello played with mute. Here the performers made the music sound like it was composed by Shostakovich, becoming clangorous and sonically surprising with long finger-board slides from the cellist. Mr. Andrianov all evening exhibited consummate bow control and a jumping spiccato bow in the energetic fifth movement Marcia.

Schumann’s three lush Op. 73 Fantasiestuck began the second part, the most popular piece on the program due partly to its many transcriptions for clarinet and French horn. But the tender and expressive sections sound perfect for the cello and Mr. Andrianov made the most of their romantic restlessness. The phrasing from both artists was patrician and the second part (Lebhaft leicht) elegant in every detail, especially in the pianist’s velvet arpeggios.

Italian composer Giovanni Sollima (b. 1962) is a cello master and his Lamentatio (1997) is a tour de force for solo cello, requiring a brilliant technique of the performer. Mr. Andrianov played the eight-minute work fearlessly and with radiant tone and dead-on pitch, as he did throughout the concert. The audience appeared astonished and excited at the potent reading of an unfamiliar composition.

Ending the recital was a pillar of 20th-Century music for cello, Shostakovich’s Op. 40 Sonata from 1934. Mr. Kobin’s introductory remarks, referring to the composer’s Fourth Symphony and opera Lady MacBeth of the Mtsensk from the same period, underscored the masterly invention of the opening Allegro. Here both musicians were interested in the long line, the contemplative first theme giving way to dramatic outbursts, always supported by Mr. Kobrin’s powerful sound and infallible left-hand octaves. Mr. Andrianov carefully widened his vibrato with increasing volume, symmetrically narrowing it with lowered sonority. The cellist played with concentration, eschewing the physical flamboyance of Misha Maisky without giving up one iota of tonal opulence.

As in many Shostakovich works, the themes can be initially banal but always take on complexity and become unforgettable in context, especially when performed with this duo’s artistry. The concluding Allegro was played with little string vibrato, beginning with mute but then quickly becoming vivacious and witty. This was playing with sweep and big gestures.

Mention needs to be made of the hall’s piano, a less than professional instrument with limited treble sustain, slow key repetition, damper leakage in loud chords and muddy bass tones. Mr. Kobrin’s approach was to give no quarter, making the inadequate instrument sing and roar as if it were without peer.

The two stellar Russians gave the finest cello recital in the North Bay since the Isserlis-Gerstein concert in Newman long ago. Their musical marriage was passionately united in the service of great music.