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Recital
DYNAMIC PIANISM IN YAKUSHEV MARIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev arrived Jan. 23 at his Mill Valley Chamber Music Society recital with the repute of playing loud and fast and delivering charming introductory musical remarks to his audience. He was true to form in Mill Valley’s Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church, preceding Haydn’s sple
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,
SYMPHONY REVIEW

Pianist and Conductor Stephen Prutsman

A MUSIC OFFERING IN A SONIC MIXTURE

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bach’s iconic D Minor Clavier Concerto was the centerpiece in the fourth day of Mendocino Music Festival events July 16 in the big tent concert hall, with San Francisco-based Stephen Prutsman the featured artist.

Conducting a chamber orchestra of ten from a lidless piano, Mr. Prutsman took fast tempos and a muscular approach throughout, eschewing subtlety in favor of driving rhythms and dramatic contrasts.
His approach to this contrapuntal masterpiece featured some novel trills with speedy conclusions, pedal point and a detache touch in scale passages, all well suited to this music. It was not Bach to everyone’s taste but elicited loud applause from the 400 people in the hall.

The small orchestra, composed of five violins, two violas, two cellos and bass, managed the speedy pace well. The Adagio movement was captivating.

Mention should be made of the amplification that produced far too much volume and generated a piano tone that was brittle and lacking color. Resident technicians say amplification is required as the tent (and audience) smothers reverberation. The downsides are a lack of spatial presence for the instruments and unnatural string color and overtones. Given the physical condition of a large tent concert space there presumably is not an alternative to the electronic enhancement.

The concert began with Festival co-director Susan Waterfall’s erudite descriptions from the podium of the 1647 genesis of Bach’s “Musical Offering,” BWV 1079. This set 16 short movements is based on a flute theme of Prussian monarch Frederick the Great. In four initial canons Ms. Waterfall provided continuo at the piano and was joined by flutist Mindy Rosenfeld, violinist Jeremy Cohen and cellist Burke Schuchmann.

Bach’s stately C Minor Trio Sonata followed, a four-movement work that showcased Ms. Rosenfeld’s elegant and nimble virtuosity and the sonic support of Mr. Schuchmann’s robust cello vibrato. The tempos here were judicious, allowing the interwoven instrumental lines to be heard clearly. This ideceptively complex Baroque music was rendered convincingly for connoisseurs and those new to Bach’s late compositions.