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Recital
HEROIC LIM PERFORMANCE AT STEINWAY SOCIETY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, September 18, 2022
Chamber
SURPRISING IVES TRIO AND SONGS AT VMMF'S HANNA CENTER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 24, 2022
Chamber
SEMINAL SCHUBERT CYCLE PERFORMANCE FROM STEGALL-ZIVIAN AT VMMF
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, July 23, 2022
Opera
MARIN'S STRIPPED-DOWN OPERA CHARMS
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 17, 2022
Chamber
MOZART AND BRAHMS AN AUSPICIOUS COUPLE AT VMMF FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 17, 2022
Chamber
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by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, July 16, 2022
Recital
AGGRESSIVE PIANISM IN MYER'S MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 14, 2022
Opera
SONOROUS WAGNER GALA AND CAPACITY CROWD AT VALLEJO'S EMPRESS
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, July 9, 2022
Choral and Vocal
TRAVELING CHORISTERS SO CO DEBUT IN TWO BIG CANTATAS
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 25, 2022
Opera
VERDI'S THEATRICAL LA TRAVIATA TRIUMPHS AT CINNABAR
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, June 19, 2022
SYMPHONY REVIEW

RIMSKY PROVES RISKY IN GUERNEVILLE

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 21, 2008

Seth Montfort’s Russian River Conservatory seems to have a lock on classical music premieres for the North Bay and Sonoma County, with nearly every concert in his Guerneville mortuary-turned–concert-hall bringing arcane repertoire to small but knowledgeable audiences. Concerts produced by Seth are adventures.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Piano Concerto in C Sharp was the featured work on Sept. 21, with Montfort at the Conservatory piano and Gabriel Sakakeeny conducting the Mortuary Orchestra of Guerneville. Having a professional conductor (Sakakeeny is the director of the American Philharmonic Sonoma County) was an absolute necessity for this concert, as rehearsal time was limited, acoustics were problematic, and the music was probably new to all, including this reviewer, whose only experience with the concerto is the long-vanished Richter recording from the 1960s.

The concerto doesn’t quite fit into conventional orchestral repertoire. Composed in 1882, at the same time as the similar (but longer) Arensky Concerto in F, the Rimsky work is on a different planet than the ca.1875 blockbusters of the Russian canon, the Tchaikovsky B-Flat and the Rubinstein D Minor. Rimsky’s work never really makes an artistic whole. There is much Liszt present in thematic transformation, lots of octaves in the piano, and much alteration of tempo.

In this performance, there was, unfortunately, not much alteration of volume, nor was there any subtlety of phrasing or harmonic balancing. The reasons for this lack of success were manifold: the inadequate and dull piano, the absence of pianistic rubato, the dense textures from the small performance space, and a sense of incompatibility between the solo instrument and the 29-musician orchestra.

On the other hand, the aspects that went well were quite lovely, including the ardent clarinet solos by Jeff Chan; the uniformly good horn playing from Janis Lieberman and Paul Hadley; the long, repetitious but lovely solo cadenza with choice resurrections of the opening theme; and Sakakeeny’s rapt attention to the score.

This reviewer could not stay for the second half, a complete “Seasons” of Vivaldi. Alas, it was my loss, as phone calls the next day revealed that the performance had polish, charm and authenticity.