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Symphony
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 9, 2022
The Jan. 9 Santa Rosa Symphony concert was supposed to feature the world premiere of Gabriella Smith’s first symphony, but it ended up featuring another type of premiere: a concert that was conceived, rehearsed and performed in less than eight hours. Symphony staff learned on Sunday morning that so
Choral and Vocal
AN OLD FRIEND RETURNS TO WEILL IN STERLING ABS MESSIAH PERFORMANCE
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, December 19, 2021
A tremendous accomplishment by the American Bach Soloists Dec. 19 was near perfect performance of Handel's Messiah in Weill Hall. Long an annual tradition at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, the ABS took to the road and delivered a Christmas gift of epic proportions to an obviously thrilled and enth
Symphony
SHOSTAKOVICH FIFTH THUNDERS AT WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 5, 2021
In a new season marketed as “Classical Reunion,” the Santa Rosa Symphony made a palpable connection with its audience at the early December set of three standing ovation concerts in Weill Hall. The December 5 concert, with 1,000 attending, is reviewed here. Vaughan Williams’ popular Fantasia on a T
Chamber
THE LINCOLN RETURNS WITH CLARKE'S PUNGENT TRIO
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, November 18, 2021
There were many familiar faces Nov. 18 during Music at Oakmont’s initial concert of the season, but perhaps the most necessary were the three musicians of the Lincoln Piano Trio, the Chicago-based group that has performed often in Oakmont since 2006. A smaller than unusual audience in Berger Audito
Symphony
NOSTALGIC BARBER KNOXVILLE AT SO CO PHIL JACKSON THEATER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
In their first Jackson Theater appearance of the new season the Sonoma County Philharmonic presented Nov. 14 a program devoid of novelty, but showcasing the “People’s Orchestra” in splendid performance condition after a long COVID-related layoff. Conductor Norman Gamboa drew a committed and boister
Chamber
THRILLING PIANO QUINTETS IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 14, 2021
The Mill Valley Chamber Music Society sprang back to life on November 14 when a stellar ensemble from the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based collective, arrived to perform two piano quintets: Vaughn-Williams’ in C Minor (1903), little known and rarely performed; and Schubert’s in A Major D.
Chamber
MUSCULAR BRAHMS FROM IVES COLLECTIVE IN GLASER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Leaving SRJC’s Newman Auditorium for the first time in decades, the College’s Chamber Concert Series presented a season-opening concert Nov. 14 in Santa Rosa’s Glaser Center with the four-musician Bay-Area based Ives Collective. The season, the first given since 2020, is dedicated to Series Founder
Symphony
MONUMENTAL BRAHMS SYMPHONY HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY RETURN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 7, 2021
In the waning COVID pandemic the Marin Symphony is one of the last Bay Area orchestras to return to the stage, and they did with considerable fanfare Nov. 7 before 1,200 in Civic Center Auditorium, with resident conductor Alasdair Neale leading a demanding concert of Brahms, Schumann and New York-ba
Symphony
APOLLO'S FIRE LIGHTS UP VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Long ago the Canadian violin virtuoso Gil Shaham played a program in Weill Hall of solo Bach, with a visual backdrop of slowly developing visuals, such as a pokey flower opening over four minutes. The Bach was sensational, and some in the audience liked the photos but many found them disconcerting,
Chamber
SPARKLING WIND, STRING, HARP MUSIC AT DEVON HOUSE GARDEN CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Take a mild autumn evening, a garden gazebo with patterned rugs and lit with soft bulbs, shake in a fine chamber ensemble, add a rising new moon, and you have a recipe for the musical delight that violist Elizabeth Prior presented Oct. 9 in her Devon House Garden Concert series. The Marin Terra Li
RECITAL REVIEW
MasterCard Performance Series / Sunday, April 7, 2013
Vadim Repin, violin. Andrei Korobeinikov, piano

Violinist Vadim Repin

VADIM REPIN: STARLIGHT, SHINING BRIGHT

by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 7, 2013


Born in Siberia in 1971, violinist Vadim Repin is as Russian as they come, but he played nary a note of Russian music in his April 7 recital at the Green Music Center's Weill Hall. The closest he got was the last movement of the Janacek violin sonata, which celebrates the triumphal entry of Russian troops into Moravia during World War I. The other sonatas on his wide-ranging program--by Brahms, Grieg and Ravel--were far removed from any Russian influence.

Musicians, however, know no borders, as evidenced by Repin and his delightful accompanist Andrei Korobeinikov's superb renditions of all the nationalities that flowed through their fingers. The nearly full house was entranced by Janacek's pungent evocations of his native Moravia; by Brahms' full-bore German romanticism; by Grieg's ebullient vision of Norway; and finally by Ravel's scintillating portrait of 1920s Paris.

Of all the sonatas Repin played, the opening Janacek was the most dramatic. A born storyteller with a flair for opera, Janacek invests his music with psychological suspense, with phrases that sound like trains of thought or surging emotions. His characteristic device is the sudden interjection--a device that Repin has thoroughly mastered. Throughout the sonata, he brought these interjections into play like flashes of lightning. The result was pure suspense. To be sure, his rhythms were exact, his intonation razor sharp, his bowings a marvel--but what carried the day was the drama, the headlong rush into compelling narrative.

Now in his 40s, Repin has long since proved his technical command of the violin. Every aspect of his playing is admirable, from the suppleness of his vibrato to his impeccable bowing and phrasing. He is old-school in his disdain for histrionics. He plays with feet firmly planted, eyes often closed, and knees flexible. In the stormiest passages, he will sometimes swoop downward, but his posture is otherwise erect and serene.

The Janacek was a concert in itself, displaying the full range of Repin's abilities, particularly his ability to enact different roles. At times he was the intruder, threatening the musical serenity with thunderbolts. At other times he was the very image of pastoral quiescence, flowing as languidly as a slow-moving river. The final movement was an absolute marvel, its phrases imbued with mystery, suspense and ultimate triumph.

After the Janacek, the Brahms Violin Sonata No. 3 seemed almost staid. Repin and Korobeinikov opted for a smooth approach to this frequently played work. The opening phrases were light, with little vibrato. As the players dug in, they maintained an excellent balance, but the results were not as impassioned as in the Janacek. It was not until the final movement that Repin really got going. He roared right in, harnessing Brahms' wild horses and driving through the score like a man possessed. The wonderful cascade of sextuplets at the movement's climax was a high point of the afternoon.

During intermission, some of the crowd wandered outside to investigate the amphitheater behind Weill Hall's rear wall, which can be opened during warm weather. The skies were gray, however, and the air cold. Fortunately, sunny skies and warm breezes were only moments away, in Grieg's Violin Sonata No. 2. This irrepressible work is about as life-affirming as music gets, with one happy phrase following another in spellbinding succession.

Repin, who had bared his soul in the previous two works, seemed utterly captivated by Grieg's optimism. The musical narrative was somewhat predictable, but Repin squeezed every ounce out of the score. He played intelligently, with full knowledge of where the music was heading, and he made it look easy. He was so relaxed that his left hand barely seemed to move during the most dazzling runs.

The applause after the Grieg was sustained, but Repin quieted everyone down by launching into Ravel's only violin sonata. The change in mood was palpable. Over the lightest of piano accompaniments, Repin's fiddle sang an eerie pentatonic song with a rollicking 6/8 beat. Playing all the while, Repin began a long decrescendo that ended with the most pianissimo sounds this side of a mute. The sustained high note at the end of the movement was magical.

Bringing America to Paris, the second movement is marked "Blues: Moderato," and bluesy it is. Blue notes, emphatic syncopations and repeated glissandi herald the entry of the Jazz Age into classical music. Repin played all of this to great effect, but Korobeinikov seemed to get a little carried away, investing his massive chords with a bit too much oomph.

In contrast, the perpetual motion of the last movement was a model of balance. Repin, who had barely looked at his music all afternoon, stared intently at the score, matching his rapid-fire runs to Korobeinikov's prestidigitations. The excitement was infectious, culminating in a spectacular ending.

After an immediate standing ovation and a couple of curtain calls, Repin played one encore, finally acknowledging one of his fellow Russians: Jascha Heifetz's version of the heavenly "Estrellita," by Manuel Ponce. It wasn't real Russian music, but it was a fitting encore for a genuine international star.

[Reprinted by permission of San Francisco Classical Voice.]