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Chamber
STYLISH HAYDN QUARTETS CLOSE GREEN ROOM SERIES
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Completing the Green Music Center’s spring series series of “Green Room” virtual concerts, the St. Lawrence String Quartet played May 9 a lightweight program of two Haydn works. Lightweight perhaps, but in every way satisfying. The G Major Quartet (Op. 76, No.1) began the music that was supplement...
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...
RECITAL REVIEW
MasterCard Performance Series / Saturday, March 2, 2013
Anne-Sophie Mutter,violin; Lambert Orkis, piano

Violinish Anne-Sophie Mutter

LUTOSLAWSKI PARTITA THRILLING IN MUTTER'S WEILL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 2, 2013

Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter charmed a Weill Hall audience March 2 in a recital that eschewed popular works and elicited rapt attention from the 1,300 listeners present. Forgoing the staples of the Brahms and Beethoven sonatas, or the Franck and Prokofiev, the German artist played provocative and exciting music with her pianist of long standing, Lambert Orkis.

Lutoslawski’s thorny five-movement Partita from 1984 was played in the second half and was a tour de force for the violinist with a rollicking beginning, eerie octave slides and high-pitch whines on two and three strings. Intermixed into a piece of much cacophony was Ms. Mutter’s lovely touch, and though the violin part wanders, she was perfectly in sync with Mr. Orkis. It’s rare for a string player to have the same pianist for more than a few years, yet the Mutter-Orkis duo has been together since 1988. The Partita has sections of wide instrumental departure that often resolve quickly into unison playing. Both musicians were impeccable in this difficult work, which is more about sound than notes. Mr. Orkis is a superbly fluent artist who never covered his partner, and it was rare to hear a real forte chord from the piano.

Fluent and committed playing was also heard in the recital’s concluding work, Saint-Saëns' D Minor Sonata. It was a reading full of passion and free from any hint of vulgarity or the Lutoslawski’s dissonances. The difficult bowing in the Scherzo was beautifully and crisply done (four fast up bows in a row) and the transition to the perpetuo moto finale was well handled. The playing was fast and exciting, and the sixteenth-note passages near the explosive end were well coordinated and drove inexorably to the finish.

The concert opened with Mozart’s G Major Sonata, K. 379, in a romantic conception that took the repeats in the variation movement (Andante cantabile) with different dynamics and articulation. This is a hallmark of romantic era music making where repeats always have many subtle differences. At several points Ms. Mutter used a spiccato bow and sporadically played exquisite legato scales, and once after a long upward scale passage she deftly paused before the last note. A lovely effect.

In the solo piano opening to the Schubert C Major Fantasie (D. 934), Mr. Orkis’ tremolo was not quite as magical as possible, but the violinist’s entrance was magical enough, the beginning so quiet as to be almost inaudible. As the dynamic became louder, still in the opening passage with piano tremolo, Ms. Mutter’s vibrato began to intrude. The second "movement" allegro was played in a more restrained manner than one usually hears, to good effect.

The long variations movement was at times shaky and foreshortened by the duo’s decision not to take any of the repeats after the thematic statement, which has a “written in” repeat in which the instruments alternate taking the lead. Most performances include these repeats. Hungarian touches were captured by the duo as well as some brooding drama.

One encore was offered, Ravel’s "Vocalise Étude En Forme de Habanera." This gem in G Minor was seductively played by Ms. Mutter and all the more effective after the excitement of the Saint-Saëns sonata.

Bronislaw Irving contributed to this review.