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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...
CHAMBER REVIEW

Peter Duggan and Charles Yang

PIANO SONOMA JAMS IN FINAL WEILL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, August 3, 2014

PianoSonoma concluded its artist-in-residence performances August 3 in a sparkling Weill Hall concert where mostly new music overshadowed conventional fare.

Mendelssohn’s popular D Minor Trio began the program in a workmanlike performance that never quite caught fire. Tempos throughout were judicious, supported by the warm bottom register of cellist Julian Schwartz, and pianist David Aladashvili’s legato scale passages were, as usual for chamber music in Weill, often indistinct.

The lyrical Andante was lovely with fetching piano duos with violinist Yevgeny Kutik, the latter’s sound having pitch problems and a thin treble tone. The Scherzo was lively and the headlong rush of the finale well controlled. It was trio playing that was light on thematic projection and rubato but deserved the loud applause from the audience of 300.

A seven-section Thomas Cabaniss work, “Movements for Tiny Bits of Outrageous Love,” was boisterously played four hands from score by PianoSonoma directors Jessica and Michael Shinn. In his pre-performance remarks, Mr. Shinn asked the audience to make connections between the work’s witty titles and their own lives. Virtuosity was on display in every piece, from the quotidian “One and One” through “Flutter Flutter” (long shimmering trills and tremolos) and the new age and minimalist “Love Song.” In the nocturne-like “Respite” there was an air of nostalgic Brahms that quickly moved to a brief toccata and a charming slow waltz.

The only astringency was “Crossings,” wild at times with each pianist crossing both hands and making verbal shouts and looks of feigned surprise. The “Two” finale had relaxed playing with a deft rise and fall of phrase. Here the control of dynamics was perfect and the playing was justly received with one of the afternoon’s many ovations. What a showpiece “Movements” is!

A local premiere followed, composer-in-residence Paul Frucht’s unnamed piece for two pianos. Peter Duggan and Mr. Aladashvili played it wonderfully. At turns percussive, rumbling and busy, Mr. Frucht (in the audience and shouting “bravos” at the end) has written a work with cascades of notes and some inside-the-piano string plucking. The artists made the most of the short lyrical sections amid the raucous grand sweep that grew inexorably to a powerful conclusion.

Violinist Charles Yang and Mr. Duggan concluded the program with Ravel’s exciting Tzigane, the long solo violin introductory passage carrying clearly in the hall. Though sporadically clipping off phrase endings. Mr. Yang took his time in the 1924 piece, eschewing the often seen flamboyant body motions for lithe leaning into the gypsy harmonics and rhythms. Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies (6, 9 and 12) for piano seemingly were models for this impassioned work. Both artists played off the other’s energy and conveyed a bit of menace in the scintillating score, a staple for virtuosi. The string pizzicato was convincingly forceful, as were Mr. Duggan’s even trills and athletic right hand skips. The acceleration of the coda to presto was dramatic.

Speaking of skips, after an unprogrammed five-minute piano-violin jam session that finished the concert to a standing ovation, Mr. Yang skipped off the stage with a full cartwheel.

PianoSonoma’s final concert was a cheerful event with serious and genial music captivatingly played.