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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,
CHAMBER REVIEW
Green Music Center / Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Jeffrey Kahane and Natasha Paremski, piano; Andrew Shulman, cello; Margaret Batjer, violin; Aloysia Friedmann, viola

Pianist Jeffrey Kahane with Cellist Andrew Schulman June 26 in Schroeder Hall (N. Anderson Photo)

BRAWNY BRAHMS HIGHLIGHTS OPENING CHAMBERFEST PROGRAM IN SCHROEDER

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Jeffrey Kahane has done it again. After multiple Sonoma County appearances since leaving the Santa Rosa Symphony in 2006, the pianist and conductor has designed a scintillating summer concert series at Sonoma State’s Green Music Center – Chamberfest.

The first of nine concerts in a short five-day span June 24 featured a muscular program of Beethoven and Brahms, with a tiny Bach transcription as a tasty prelude. Beethoven’s early Op. 5 F Major Cello Sonata received a sparkling reading with cellist Andrew Schulman joining Mr. Kahane, the charming introductory dotted rhythm leading into buoyant Allegro. Mr. Kahane pushed the tempo with his signature high-speed (and often muddy) right hand scales. Both the cello and piano lines were dynamically and fluently presented, sometimes declamatory with quick changes of mood, and the concluding Rondo was full of zest. It felt like something already in progress, a kick-up-your-heels gypsy dance. The composer’s creativity with variation was everywhere underscored, and at several places the musicians slowed the tempo to a heartfelt simplicity and then sent the theme over the top in a wild gallop to the end.

It wasn’t a subtle performance but it was thrilling, and the cellist deftly used a small vibrato and rich tone.

In his introductory remarks to the audience reviewing the Festival’s programs, Mr. Kahane commented that the most under-rated composer is early Beethoven, and this Sonata was a prime example.

Following intermission Brahms’ early and burly G Minor Quartet, Op. 25, was played by pianist Natasha Paremski, Margaret Batjer (violin), Mr. Shulman and violist Aloysia Friedmann. If a rough-hewn Brahms performance is desired, this one was sui generis. The sprawling opening Allegro was played to highlight a dark and brooding drama, the majestic and haunting theme returning several times before ending in a whisper.

This first of Brahms’s three piano quartets is perhaps the most popular, as the concluding Rondo is so similar to the admired Hungarian Dances. In the Intermezzo the unusual coloring and delicacy of the strings was beautifully set against each other and the piano line. A passionate love song characterized the Andante where Brahms’ glowing romanticism, later to be more tightly portrayed in the C Minor Quartet of Op. 60, was captivatingly performed. There were syncopated rhythms and a lovely ascending phrase ending the movement.

In the finale the quartet tore into the sectional, dance-like structure with terrific energy and especially in the cadenza where all the themes are combined in polyphony as accurate as Bach’s and as fantastic as Liszt’s. Schroeder Hall’s sound favors big projection and Ms. Paremski’s sonority sporadically covered the strings, even with husky and fast scale passages from Ms. Batjer. The movement was played loud but never coarsely, and it’s that kind of piece.

After a standing ovation all the musicians returned to the stage and took questions from the audience. Mr. Kahane is an old hand at these kinds of sessions, and in general his commentary is witty and urbane.

Gyorgy Kurtag’s arrangement of Bach’s O Lamm Gottes Unschuldig for piano, four hands, past by without much notice save for the organ-like timbre in the instrument’s treble. Mr. Kahane played octaves and fifths to emulate this unique sound, with elegant support by Ms. Paremski in the bass.

Nicki Bell and Sonia Tubridy contributed to this review.