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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....
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Santa Rosa Symphony / Sunday, October 6, 2013
Bruno Ferrandis, conductor. Tedi Papavrami, violin

Violinist Tedi Paparvrami

FOUR-SQUARE AND FORMIDABLE

by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 6, 2013

Perhaps the four syllables of Dmitri Shostakovich's last name are what inspired him to write so many works in four movements, with a predilection for 4/4 time. Two of those works were on sonic display Oct. 6 at the Santa Rosa Symphony's opening concert set: his Symphony No. 5, with the customary four movements, and his violin concerto, with an unusual four instead of the standard three. The contents of these works are mostly four-square, both rhythmically and melodically, as exemplified by the four-note theme in the concerto that spells out the composer's abbreviated name.

What this abundance of fours does is to make for satisfying, crowd-pleasing music that runs the gamut of human emotions within a well-defined frame. The performance in this case was exceptional, with stupendous work from violin soloist Tedi Papavrami and inspired playing by the orchestra under Music Director Bruno Ferrandis.

Papavrami is an ideal candidate for the four-loving, quadraphilic Shostakovich. Clad entirely in black, with a dead-serious expression at all times, he resembles a boxer negotiating a four-square ring. His customary stance--knees bent, feet shoulder-width apart, hands up, ready to punch--is the essence of pugilism. Undeterred by the laws of physics governing human fingers, he delivers nothing but knockouts.

Playing a modern violin by the Lisbon-based Christian Bayon, Papavrami filled Weill Hall to overflowing with lush, liquid sound. The languorous opening movement of the concerto--a Nocturne--was a perfect foil for his gorgeous tone and lapidary technique. Every aspect of his playing was well controlled, from the vibrato to the double stops to the razor-sharp intonation in the upper registers. As the Nocturne progressed, the sound became shimmering and iridescent, hovering over the audience like a gentle rain.

Shattering the calm, Papavrami drove relentlessly into the Scherzo second movement, holding his own in a series of intimidating syncopations, and striking chords with machine-like precision. The orchestra kept pace, ending with a dramatic crescendo. The third frame--a Passacaglia--was both stately and majestic, punctuated by occasional blasts from the tuba. The pacing evoked a long march over a challenging landscape, and toward the end Papavrami's lower strings really began to resonate. This led to a long cadenza marked by complete silence in the hall as Papavrami coaxed more and more sound out of his instrument, featuring (what else?) four-note clusters followed by full chords and lightning runs.

Papavrami could have retired from the ring after the cadenza, but he went one more round with the final Burlesque, displaying incredible energy as he dashed off its many virtuosic passages. The ovation at the end was instantaneous and sustained, but sadly did not lead to a solo encore.

An encore of sorts did arrive in the second half, as the orchestra trotted out to play more Shostakovich, this time his popular Symphony No. 5. This modern masterpiece is definitely a Fifth Symphony, with a clear nod to Beethoven in the opening phrase. The strings had a particularly clean sound, with remarkable unanimity and a full, rich bass. The image of the march emerged once again in the opening movement, reinforced by the percussion, a gradual acceleration, and then a heroic unison that found Ferrandis jumping up and down on the podium. Turning on a dime, the orchestra ended tenderly, with a wonderful solo from concertmaster Joseph Edelberg.

The Allegretto second movement is one of Shostakovich's best-known works, and its dancing 3/4 rhythm stands in stark contrast to the rest of the symphony. Ferrandis responded well to the change in mood, evoking a lilting pace with restrained motions. The mood changed once again with the ensuing Largo, perhaps the most heartfelt music of the afternoon. The oboe solo over violin tremolo was outstanding, and the feeling projected throughout the movement was sublime, sustained all the way to the final resolving chord.

The exact opposite prevailed in the concluding Allegro. The trumpets blared out the rollicking theme, and then controlled mayhem ensued, with the orchestra regularly rising to triple forte. Timpanist Andrew Lewis was particularly fun to watch, as he held his mallets gleefully in the air, preparing for the next thundering descent. An authoritative boom from the bass drum brought the proceedings to a close.

Lest the reader think that the Santa Rosa Symphony plays only Shostakovich, the concert did begin with John Adams' iconic "Short Ride in a Fast Machine," now almost 30 years old. This too was four-square in its fashion, actually more four-geared, as the orchestra shifted rapidly from one layer of sound to the next. This thrilling piece, which helped bring Minimalism into the mainstream, sounds somewhat tame these days, prompting the elderly patron next to me to remark to her companion, "I actually sort of liked it."