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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
Mastercard Performance Series / Thursday, October 20, 2016
Itzhak Perlman, violin; Rohan De Silva, piano

Violinist Itzhak Perlman in Weill Hall Oct. 20 (Cory Weaver Photo)

ARTISTRY AND AMPLE RELAXED CHARM AT PERLMAN RECITAL IN WEILL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 20, 2016

Itzhak Perlman has fashioned a career that encompasses more than virtuoso violin performance, and includes teaching, narrating musical documentaries, score editing, humanitarian projects, charity events and an often an easy “ah shucks” demeanor that is always beguiling.

With pianist Rohan de Silva Oct. 20 in Weill Mr. Perlman programed just four works, but a balanced four that delighted a full house in Weill that included 70 stage seats. I don’t recall recital stage seats since Lang Lang’s Weill concert five years ago, or a recent sold out house for a classical music.

Following remarks by SSU President Judy Sakaki regarding Mr. Perlman’s celebrity status and her own recent appearance with an SSU ensemble, Vivaldi’s Op. 2 A Major Sonata was played. It was a classic warm up piece, pleasant with minimal vibrato and quickly forgotten.

Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne in the Samuel Dushkin arrangement came next, a masterful development of a banal theme into six intriguing parts that the violinist has played throughout his career. There is even a video of a White House performance before President Reagan, and that was 36 years ago. Mr. Perlman, using sheet music as he did all evening, played the contrasting sections with low-temperature aplomb, never forcing his tone. His trademark silvery bow technique and deft spiccato served this music well.

In the romping Tarantella Vivace Mr. de Silva’s piano line covered the violin, and in the familiar Gavotte Mr. Perlman’s notes in the low register didn’t sound. The double stops and dance figures of the Minuetto whirled to the end, and control of E-string effects was impressive. At 71 his command is still formidable.

Unfortunately Mr. Perlman's artistry has embraced less sonic projection than in past years, and this hobbled a lyrical but too often flaccid reading of Beethoven’s F Major Sonata (Spring), Op. 24. His lovely tonal equipment was of course present in this iconic work, but the playing never rose to even minor grandeur in the 1,400-seat Hall. Mr. de Rohin was of little help here, his scales downplayed to match the violin line and consequently were indistinct and muddy. Of course many small examples of consummate violin playing were on display, including deftly-held notes at the end of a phrase, perfectly-gauged vibrato and subtle control of slower-than-usual tempo in the concluding Rondo. It was a masterpiece played caressingly but never passionately.

Ravel’s G Major Sonata occupied the second half in a workmanlike performance that unlike the Ida Kavafian performance (earlier the same day at Oakmont) was of moderate temperature. In the Allegretto, the only Impressionistic part of the 1927 work, the playing was subdued and the piano and violin seemed at times to go their own way. Mr. Perlman captured Ravel’s unique timbre and color that reflected harmonies taken from the composer’s 1905 “Une Barque Sur L’Ocean” piano work. It was a richly hued mirror of the Impressionist “Miroirs.”

Some of the evening’s best playing came in the blues-infused second movement where the violin seemed to whine and sway under the virtuoso’s careful control. The Perpetuum Mobile finale past quickly and was delightful in character but was lacking in dramatic punch.

A standing ovation ensued and encores were expected. Four were performed, and the now well-known Perlman-de Rohan “skit” of bringing out a pile of sheet music for consultation (as to which to play) was enacted. Most concert goers know that possible encore music is assiduously rehearsed, but depending on your outlook this little drama is either affected or charming. The Weill audience was of the latter opinion and loved the passing of scores and Mr. Perlman’s facetious comments on “probably” playing encores in the same auditorium in 1912.

Several Fritz Kreisler transcriptions were forthcoming, the most persuasive being a lovely slow fox-trot dance with a bantamweight ending to begin the series, and the Tambourin-Chinois that ended it. The Tambourin was played with élan but Mr. Perlman chose a leisurely tempo that lessened the difficulty but enhanced the magic of the piece.

As a respite from showpieces one encore was the theme from the movie “Schindler’s List,” and at the last notes the audience was spellbound and for several moments silent.