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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
Green Music Center / Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Elina Garanša, mezzo soprano. Kevin Murphy, piano

Mezzo Soprano Elina Garanca

SONG CYCLES FOR CONNOISSEURS

by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Elina Garanca’s April 9 Weill Hall recital was a connoisseur’s program, eschewing the more popular song literature and concentrating on mostly subtle and evocative works of Schumann, Berg and Richard Strauss.

With pianist Kevin Murphy, the Latvian mezzo soprano, famous from the opera stage as a sumptuous Carmen, programmed four of Schumann's Op. 25 "Myrthen" songs and the introspective and demanding cycle "Frauenliebe und -Leben," Op. 42. Beginning with “Widmung,” the Op. 25 group was delivered with quick tempos and minimal attention to warmth and color. There was artful balance in the familiar “Der Nussbaum,” with clear pianistic arpeggios, and more vocal power in “Jemand.” Mr. Murphy’s discerning pianism was always supportive and nuanced. In “Zwei Lieder der Brut” (Nos. 11 and 12), Ms. Garanca spun each of the soft-sung endings with delicate ritards.

"Frauenliebe und -Leben" is an eight-section work from 1840 setting out a woman’s love--through first contact, marriage and death--set to poems by Adelbert von Chamisso. Unlike Schubert’s song cycles with integrated piano parts, Schumann’s cycle has many stretches of independent piano parts and a lengthy postlude, here ethereally played by Mr. Murphy. There were quick transitions between sections and sporadically the singer moved to an operatic voice, filling the hall with glorious sound. “Du Ring an meinem Finger” was lovely with just the right tempo, the one big forte powerfully sung. In the final song, “Nun hast du mir den ersten Schemerz getan,” the pathos and sense of loss were palpable.

Following a change of gowns (shimmering grey to shimmering blue) Ms. Garanca also changed vocal gears with Berg’s "Seven Early Songs" from 1908. Here her voice had extra sonority and occasionally covered Mr. Murphy’s piano line. “Die Nachtigal” was performed forcefully and underscored the contrasting harmonies, and in “In Zimmer,” the piano and voice played off their contrasting lines with clipped endings. Mr. Murphy played one of his few fortissimo passages of the night in the opening of "Liebesode." Throughout, Ms. Garanca offered singing of assurance and communication, a highlight of the recital.

Six Richard Strauss songs closed the recital, and here again the singer avoided popular works in favor of the epicurean, although the well-known “Allerseelen” was included. The “All mein Gedanken” had the requisite frolicking character, and “Meinem Kinde” was captivatingly lyrical, with Mr. Murphy contributing a rippling piano part. Mr. Garanca floated a soft and high tessitura in “Leises Lied” and projected a weighty sound in the dramatic closing work, “Heimliche Aufforderung." Opera singing trumps lieder in much of Strauss.

Ms. Garanca rewarded the loud but not insistent applause of the audience of 850 with one encore, Brahms’ “Meine Liebe ist grün.” It was deftly sung, the phrasing earnest and exquisitely sculpted.