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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
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
RECITAL REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Spencer Myer, piano.

Pianist Spencer Meyer July 22 in Preston Hall

MYER'S MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL SPOTLIGHTS MOZART TO BALCOM

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Completing the Mendocino Music Festival’s piano series July 22 was an energetic recital by returning Festival artist Spencer Myer. The nearly full Preston Hall audience was treated to a program, announced from the piano, that had broad musical appeal and panache.

Exploring the Festival’s Mozart theme, Mr. Myer played the G Major Sonata, K. 283, with grace, balanced scales and seamless right-hand trills. The following Adagio and robustPresto unfolded with
silky grace and speed but without compelling inner voices or unique touches.

Schumann’s C Major Fantasia, Op. 17, closed the first half, the composer’s greatest large-scale work. In the opening movement the pianist brought extremes of dynamic range and declarative themes in the right hand to the emotional score that only resolves into C Major in the final 25 measures. The tempo taken in the famous march movement was fast, tempered by judicious pedaling and an occasional solo note held in the treble to effect. The contrary motion skips that bedevil so many pianists didn’t trouble Mr. Myer.

The finale (Langsam) was played with a poetically flowing stream of sound, punctuated by two big climaxes. The final three pianissimo chords were captivating. A standing ovation ensued.

Ravel’s F-Sharp Major Sonatine began the second half and was given a polished interpretation in Modéré with the most beguiling tone color of the afternoon, especially when the artist played softly. The Animé had a shimmering quality with subtle rubato and deft pedaling. The performance had lots of charm.

In his remarks to the audience Mr. Myer noted that Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie, Op. 61, was a complex tone poem pointing the way to the Polish composer’s last works. His playing underscored the rhythmic characteristics of the dance form while the music opened into novel (for 1846) harmonies and an improvisatory and meditative middle section. There was an extended pause at the end before the final loud chord.

Three of William Balcom’s popular piano rags closed the program in grand style, and the artist seemed to enjoy the excitement caused by the sprightly “Old Adam” two step and the “Graceful Ghost.” The rag fantasy “Serpent’s Kiss” was the most complex and taxing work of the three, and the audience (me too) loved the gymnastic finger technique Mr. Myer applied to “Kiss.”

One encore was offered, Earl Wild’s variations on Gershwin’s 1930 hit from “Girl Crazy,” I got Rhythm. The pianist conquered the difficult close cross-hand figurations with ease and flair.