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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

Dmitri Illarnionov and Boris Andrionov

VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018

Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers were mostly new to North Coast, and the program was mostly all arcane transcriptions. It was the final event in RAC’s 38th season.

Cellist Boris Andrionov has appeared at a previous RAC program in Occidental, with the virtuoso pianist Alexander Kobrin, and this evening joined guitarist Dmitri Illarionov for novel instrumental transcriptions. Transcriptions? Sure, and the selections were full of sonic variety, novel instrumental color and consummate virtuosity.

The duo played without score the entire evening and began with Bach’s C Minor Cello Suite, BWV 1011, using the two instruments solo in some of the six sections, or in a harmonious mix. The large church has a high ceiling and lots of carpeting and heavy oak pews, and thus minimal reverberation. But acoustics were excellent, as the sound is direct and clear. It was a fetching transcription highlighted by Mr. Andrionov’s non-legato arpeggios in the allemande. It was quickly clear that both player’s virtuosity and compositional wizardry would dominate the evening. These are sprightly dance movements with Mr. Illiaronov’s solo courante playing beguiling. Tempos were just right, judicious in the sarabande and slow and yearning in the two-parte gavotte.

Mr. Illarionov altered the program, playing Albéniz’ Granada instead of the announced Tarrega Carnaval of Venice Variations on a Paganini theme, but the substitution was welcome and splendidly performed. Guitar praise can go no higher. His two-finger legato supporting the single note theme was mesmerizing.

Falla’s Suite Popular Española was originally written for soprano and voice, and was transcribed by violinist Paul Kochanski for strings, and finally by the evening’s guitarist. There is much high register cello playing, and sounds of a Zarzuela dance and even a mimic of a soprano voice. Spanish rhythms abound and vibrato, mostly absent in the Bach, returned. A sensual work brilliantly performed.

Picking out highlights in a concert full of them is risky, but I might nominate the four Russian Romances that began the second half. Glinka and Boris Sheremetev were the only familiar composers, and the music was at turns melancholic in the “I Met You” (a captivating long decrescendo and crescendo by Mr. Andrionov), and a suave “salonstücke” dance in “The Gate” with cutesy pauses. Gaiety and sadness were constantly juxtaposed.

Four Moldavian Folk songs in transcription followed. The rhythms and “dervish” effects produced by both instruments were irresistible. The tarantella dance seemed to be played on top of the strings, and full of strange and rich color.

Two solos came next, Mr. Illarionov playing a non-Piazzolla “Tango en Skaï” (Roland Dyens) and Mr. Andrionov answered with an under six-minute scintillating performance of Giovanni Sollima’s cello showpiece “Lamentatio.” It was exciting and used instrument body slapping, long delicious slides, rapid bow and at one moment even the lament sound of the cellist’s own voice.

One might think that the audience of 150 would tire of many short works (23 at this time) and so much associated virtuosity, but that wasn’t the case, and two contrasting Piazzolla works concluded the recital: the slow and lovely “Tanti Anni Prima” and the pungent “La Muerte del Angel.” Both received the same sovereign instrumental command that characterized this sensational concert of unique string transcriptions.