Home  Reviews  Articles  Calendar  Presenters  Add Event     
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

Violinist Hilary Hahn

PRISTINE CONTROL, SUBDUED EMOTION

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hilary Hahn’s April 27 Weill Hall recital found the violinist entering the stage without her instrument, beginning ten minutes of comments about the program. She does these introductions well, and most of the audience enjoyed the discourse comparing Schubert's Fantasia for Violin with Schoenberg’s thorny Phantasy for Violin, and her recent commissioning project of 27 encore pieces.

And it was with this fresh set that she began with Welsh composer Richard Barrett’s three-minute “Shade,” a skittering tour de force of spiccato bow effects and eerie mystery. The sound had a scary edge, stopping and starting, and pianist Cory Smythe had the last word with a rich soft bottom B note.

Anton Garcia Abril’s Tres Suspiros followed, the three parts spotlighting Ms. Hahn’s superb bow control that allowed her to fashion the small thematic snippets in the first and third movements with aplomb. There is more than a little Messiaen here, and in the third movement the duo deftly played long phrase endings. The solo violin second movement had a lovely controlled pianissimo and a flavor of gypsy rhythms.

Schoenberg’s Op. 47 Phantasy was played very well, but I must admit I have never connected with it as I do with the Viennese master’s Violin Concerto. Ms. Hahn’s focus, intensity and stamina were admirable throughout this vexing work from 1949. The piano part is often furtive, and Ms. Hahn’s multiple tone skips were pristine.

Closing the first half was Mozart’s A Major Sonata, K. 305. The music fell warmly on the ear after the pesky Schoenberg. The playing struck an argumentative note in the first movement, and in the concluding variations the pianist’s subdued legato playing contrasted with the soloist’s marvelous tone, smoothly changing from dry to florid. That said, it’s one of Mozart’s least interesting sonatas, albeit well laid out for both piano and violin.

Two works comprised the second half, preceded again by Ms. Hahn’s remarks to the audience of 1,200: Telemann’s E Minor Fantasie for solo violin (TWV 40:19) and Schubert’s C Major Fantasia, D. 934. The Fantasie was played without score and was faultless in all registers. These were gallant dances with contrapuntal twists galore, a Baroque delight that made one want a Bach Partita from Ms. Hahn’s magical instrument.

In the protracted Schubert piece, Mr. Symthe was an attentive but not virtuoso pianist, playing sporadic muddy scale passages and beginning far too loudly. Here the music for both instruments needs to carefully grow from silence. A long held note in the violin led effortlessly to the rondo theme, emphasizing the long arch of rarified lyricism. In the opening slow section, Ms. Hahn used portamento rarely, but in the many repeats played them with variety: here a diminuendo, there a less forceful character or a tad less vibrato. She has a consummate and delicate pizzicato technique with at times intriguing inflections.

The 26-minute performance had a triumphant and majestic finale, each musician trading motives in a celebratory way leading to an exciting finish.

Responding to a standing ovation, the violinist played Max Richter’s “Mercy,” a threnody work that has sounds like Pärt or new-age music. But here it was mesmerizing with long decrescendos and, as always, Ms. Hahn’s subtle control of pianissimo and bow position. Slow piano chords were in the background, leaving the yearning and delicate work to a violinist at the top of her game. It was an encore that had a certain emotional impact that was lacking in the recital proper.

Violinist Mischa Hubermann contributed to this review