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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....
CHAMBER REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Saturday, November 11, 2017
Tetzlaff Quartet. Christian Tetzlaff and Elizabeth Kufferath, violin; Hanna Weinmeister, viola; Tanja Tetzlaff, cello

Tetzlaff Quartet

TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017

German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart.

Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapuntal clarity was in the forefront of their performance of Mozart’s E-Flat Major Quartet, K. 428. All of Mr. Tetzlaff’s trademarks were on display here: small ritards in the high register that drop quickly into decrescendo and chaste phrasing again high up that drops to pianissimo and hands the themes to colleagues. His musical partners were exemplary all night: Elizabeth Kufferath, violin; Hanna Weinmeister, viola; and cellist Tanja Tetzlaff.

Placing Ms. Tetzlaff stage left (unlike the Quartet’s photos and YouTube appearances) gave hefty but precise low string weight to the ensemble, and she played elegantly all evening. The romantic mood of the opening allegro was captured, and the Quartet had impeccable control of pianissimo in the quiet repeated four-note phrases. The andante and menuetto were equally well played, and Mr. Tetzlaff’s spiccato bow was nimble and the contrasting moods of the short trio were perfectly shaped.

The boisterous finale found Mr. and Ms. Tetzlaff in delicious duos with ample virtuosity and Mozartian insight. Always impressive was the way each instrument in the blend could grow the music in intensity, reminiscent of Haydn’s Quartets, from every volume level. It was a brilliant and mature interpretation.

Berg’s two-movement Quartet, Op. 3, closed the first half. This is a complex 20-minute contrapuntal work from 1910, atonal and full of leaps in the melodic lines. Ms. Weinmeister opened the piece with a touching lament and the entering strings used portamento effectively. Much of the playing underscored the shrill aspects of Berg’s music, though the Tetzlaff’s dynamic flexibility and ability to play soft and fading phrase endings diluted some of the strident string tone. Knotty rhythms were mastered in the finale, and Ms., Tetzlaff’s big cello statement in the coda seemed effortless, which of course in this music it was not.

Following intermission Schubert’s G Major Quartet (No. 15, D. 887) comprised the entire second half. It’s the composer’s last and longest quartet, and arguably the most difficult to keep together over its 45-minute duration. Stamina on the Tetzlaff, and certainly some in the audience of 350, is required. It was a wonderful performance and the Tetzlaff didn’t evidence a moment of fatigue. Their opening grabbed attention in a way that was almost orchestral in texture. Viola and Ms. Kufferath’s genteel violin line and tremolos paired with Mr. Tetzlaff’s interjecting notes and phrases to form sharp contrasts – elegiac background and often wild sound flights. The Quartet effortlessly and subtlety changed tempos throughout, surely needs in Schubert’s Quartets.

The scherzo was played at a judicious tempo with a lively but never frivolous charm. Here the composer has written many false cadences, and always he seems to have another idea to present. The lilting waltz theme was enticingly rendered with seductive charm, driving to a fast ending led by Mr. Tetzlaff’s magical bow and fingers. The repeats in the concluding allegro vivace each had a slightly different character, another seemingly standard feature of this ensemble’s magisterial control and technical finish.

Programing the protracted Schubert was a savvy choice, as chamber music aficionados were rewarded with a masterful performance that was in the end spiritual and fully encompassed the composer’s genius.