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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...
RECITAL REVIEW

Malcolm Martineau and Dorothea Röschmann Feb. 18 in Weill Hall (J. McNeill photo)

SOMBER GERMAN POETRY IN SONG AT ROSCHMANN RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 18, 2018

Two weeks does make a hefty difference. Feb. 3 saw the diva Renée Fleming beguile a full Weill Hall house in a mix of Brahms, Broadway show songs and Dvorak chestnuts. It was a gala event with couture gowns and colorful extra-musical communication between singer and her rapt audience.

Dorothea Röschmann’s Feb. 18 recital from the same stage was sharply different, though the respective pianists (Helmut Höll and Malcolm Martineau) were uniformly excellent. The German soprano said not a word to the 250 in Weill, sang only in her native language, and with Mr. Martineau selected a program short on easy charm and long on somber and intense artistry.

Schubert wrote most of his Mignon Lieder during his final decade, and the stage was set for an afternoon of engaging but often melancholic lyricism. The four works, with an attached “Nachtstücke,” were sung with exemplary diction and palpable sadness. Only the second (“So last mich scheinen”) had much light with its simple piano part, and the third (“Nuf wer die Sehnsucht kennt”) with the soprano’s effortless drop of two octaves were out of character. The finale (“Kennst du das land?”) was sung in a faster tempo with a big final note.

“Nachstücke” (D. 672) was also somber but was sung beautifully, beginning with a delicate piano prelude and following graded arpeggios, and ending with Ms. Röschmann’s accurate attacks and handling the modulations with just the slightest use of ritards.

Mahler’s Rückert Lieder closed the first half, a group of five songs recounting bucolic suffering. Many singers begin with “Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft,” but Ms. Röschmann made it the second song, and with it the “real” Mahler was gloriously heard. So much of the music echoes the contemporary Kindertotenlieder cycle, and the singer gave each a dose of mystery and longing, with “Um Mitternacht” generating the first sonic majesty of the recital. The many descending piano lines captured the mystery of the poetry. The “Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder” was performed with references to the composer’s less heavy Fourth Symphony, and the music in the final (“Ich Bin der Welt”) was slowly performed, an anguished lament and a sad journey.

This haunting Mahler finale was carefully sung, provoking a far off vision, with the pianist able to terrace soft dynamics and Ms. Röschmann nailing a soaring high note that quietly broadened into a long pensive postlude. This was perhaps the recital’s highlight.

Schumann’s rarely performed Marian Stuarda Lieder opened the second half, and though beautifully sung it passed without the emotional heft of the previous Mahler and the Wagner to come. The harmonies were echt Schumann and the fourth and fifth songs the most convincing – “Abschied” (a complicated song, with many small soprano touches) and the declamatory operatic drama of “Gebet.”

Schumann’s short cycle was swept aside in the concert’s concluding Wesendonck Lieder, Wagner’s passionate five-part grouping composed in 1857. Ms. Röschmann’s operatic credentials immediately were on display in “Der Engel,” a stunning ray of vocal sunshine after so much mournful musical travail. The slow tempos were perfect gauged, the big climaxes never forced or shrill. This continued in “Stehe Still!” and the Tristan Prelude-themed “Im Treibhaus.” The soprano’s low notes over a piano tremolo in the latter were richly hued, and the constantly returning theme was transfixing in a haunting ensemble. Mr. Martineau never covered the singer, and his subtle accents in major-minor key changes were ever persuasive.

In response to a standing ovation one encore was offered, Liszt’s short “Es Mus Ein Wunderbares Sein” (a wonderous rapture must it be). As all through this recital, it was sung with consummate mastery, including a novel long pause before the a tempo marking (Vom ersten kuss). Praise can go no higher.

The Green Music Center producers provided extensive notes and translations, the house lights were kept up, and with the late afternoon window luminosity people could easily follow the printed poetry.