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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
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.