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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

J. Vieaux and A. A. Meyers Backstage in Weill (Green Music Center Photo)

SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT

by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019

Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies together, they shared exquisite music to an appreciative audience of 900.

One pleasure of hearing two master musicians is that there are seemingly few barriers to what they can do. The musical world is their sonic oyster. Ms. Meyers often commissions contemporary composers and premieres arrangements and new works, and arranges some herself. Mr. Vieaux performs worldwide with diverse ensembles and seems up for anything.

Corelli’s Sonata in D Minor, Op. 5, No. 12, arranged for violin and guitar by Andy Poxon, opened the program with a flourish. Subtitled “La Folia,” it grandly states its theme, and then unravels variations delightful in their inventiveness. Ms. Meyers explored Corelli’s stylistic innovations for the violin with a universe of bowing effects. Mr. Vieaux strummed and plucked and arpeggiated chords through the wide range of sound of which the classical guitar is capable. It was a rousing opener with a distinctly Spanish flair.

Glass’ Metamorphosis II, from his five-movement piano suite composed in the late 1980s, followed. It was arranged for violin and guitar by Michael Riesman, Music Director of the Philip Glass Ensemble, and it is stunning. The guitar’s minimalist, repetitive, broken thirds were a haunting ostinato for the violin’s simple yet rich rising and falling melody, leading into rapid and delicate arpeggios, like rapidly beating wings, and was soon answered by Mr. Vieaux’s own finger-flying arpeggios. All the playing circled back to the beginning ruminations before a poignant ending.

Piazzolla’s “Histoire du Tango,” a four-movement suite from 1986, brought the spirit of the cafés and bordellos of Argentina into Weill Hall. Mr. Vieaux was clearly on home ground, dispensing with scores for the rest of the program. He has performed this work with the traditional Argentine bandoneón instrument, and it was the bandoneón’s special sound that Ms. Meyers evoked in her playing – bold sensuality and rawness, manifested through the versatility of her bow. Resonance and soul and irresistible rhythms flowed from the duo in this work. Each section takes on a different era: “Bordello, circa 1900,” brings a turn-of-the-century spirit of nightlife of Buenos Aires. “Night Club, 1960” presents the “new tango,” full of longing and fulfillment, danced in clubs. “Modern-Day Concert” intertwines tango with American jazz and the music of Eastern European composers such as Bartok and Stravinsky, whose influence was felt in Europe when Piazzolla lived in Paris. There is always a knife-edge to the tango, and the duo’s interpretation brought out that dark element as well as unfettered joy.

Following intermission, Ms. Meyers alone played her arrangement for solo violin of Kojo No Tsuki (The Moon Over the Ruined Castle), by Rentaro Taki. A simple Japanese folk tune in the pentatonic scale morphs into an exploration of sound. Meant to evoke a ruined Japanese medieval castle in the moonlight, it suggests the turbulence of life through times of war when it was alive with intrigue. A composer and pianist during the Meiji period, Taki traveled to Leipzig to further his musical studies, falling ill after a year and returning to Japan, where he died, possibly from tuberculosis, at 23. It was a lovely and intriguing piece played with great sensitivity.

Mr. Vieaux then took the stage for a solo, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa nova tune “A Felicidade,” which was the main theme of the film “Black Orpheus.” He introduced the piece by calling Jobin “perhaps the greatest popular songwriter of the 20th century.” His performance fully communicated the excitement and intensity of Carnival in Brazil.

The duo reunited for a John Corigliano “Lullaby for Natalie,” which Ms. Meyers told the audience was close to her heart; she had commissioned the work when she was pregnant with her first daughter, Natalie, now eight. Natalie was in the audience, and eyes turned to the orchestra section when the girl rose from the seats she shared with her father and younger sister. Her mother continued that the piece is Natalie’s preferred lullaby (her sister’s favorite is “Spiegel im Spiegel” by Arvo Pärt). “You’re welcome to go to sleep, honey,” Ms. Meyers concluded, smiling. The Corigliano furnished another instance among many this evening when the two instruments and two performers were especially well-suited, each sustaining a personality and voice, each discernible while blending transparently.

The artists concluded the program with five of De Falla’s “Siete Canciones Populares Española” (1914). This dazzling work has been arranged for all manner of ensembles. Dashing through moods, swelling and growing, it is heartrending music with a constant, compelling pulse. After its final notes, the audience gave the artists a standing ovation. As an encore, Ms. Meyers, admitting she “loves Elvis Presley,” joined Mr. Vieaux in playing a song Presley made popular, “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss. The performers gave it a Scottish-Irish lilt, and the richly diverse evening ended on a sentimental note.