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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
Dominican University of California Guest Concert Series / Sunday, November 15, 2015
Mikola Suk, piano

Pianist Mikolya Suk

SIC TRANSIT GLORIA SIGISMUNDI

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 15, 2015

One often hears of yet another new fiery Russian pianist, and the mental picture is of a 16-year old with octaves and temperament to burn. But older Russian artists can command a virtuoso’s seat the piano, as aptly proved by Mykola Suk in his recital Nov. 15 before 150 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall.

Seventy years is of little consequence when a pianist has the vision and technique of Mr. Suk, and the recital juxtaposed two familiar works with several “old ghosts” in the repertoire.

Familiarity was contained in Beethoven’s “Moonlight” and Liszt’s “Dante” Sonatas. Both were played with exceptional attention to pianistic details, and the Liszt work (Fantasia Quasi Una Sonata: Apres une lecture de Dante) has been a specialty for the artist. It was not note perfect playing but Mr. Suk’s powerful octaves and tremolos in the treble gave the work the needed free rhapsodic character.

Unfolding at a moderate tempo the Beethoven C-Sharp Minor Sonata had many interesting touches: novel broken chords, unusual slight end-of-phrase pauses and avoidance of ritards. The Allegretto was played demurely and omitted any nod to the dance textures.

Mr. Suk tore into the Presto Agitato finale and played it with dramatic staccato chords and tumult when it was necessary, but also with blurred right hand scales and substantial damper pedal.

Two rarely-heard works, Beethoven’s improvisatory Op. 77 Fantasia and Hummel’s La Contemplazione (Op. 107, No. 3) passed without making much of an impression in the all-fantasy program, but Thalberg’s Moses In Egypt Fantaisie, Op. 33, a paraphrase from Rossini’s opera, certainly did. The late Raymond Lewenthal resurrected the piece and sporadically it appears on a festival or scholarly program. Here it had center stage.

Mr. Suk’s passage work with countless arpeggios and Rossini’s luscious tunes were impressive, and the loud repeated chords were telling. One has to either like opera paraphrases or not. I do. And Mr. Suk sits at the instrument (like Thalberg) with little extraneous motion. It’s all business for him, and one can be happy to have heard the “Moses” in such an artistic performance before it settles again into obscurity.

There was no encore.