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Recital
DYNAMIC PIANISM IN YAKUSHEV MARIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev arrived Jan. 23 at his Mill Valley Chamber Music Society recital with the repute of playing loud and fast and delivering charming introductory musical remarks to his audience. He was true to form in Mill Valley’s Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church, preceding Haydn’s sple
Symphony
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 9, 2022
The Jan. 9 Santa Rosa Symphony concert was supposed to feature the world premiere of Gabriella Smith’s first symphony, but it ended up featuring another type of premiere: a concert that was conceived, rehearsed and performed in less than eight hours. Symphony staff learned on Sunday morning that so
Choral and Vocal
AN OLD FRIEND RETURNS TO WEILL IN STERLING ABS MESSIAH PERFORMANCE
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, December 19, 2021
A tremendous accomplishment by the American Bach Soloists Dec. 19 was near perfect performance of Handel's Messiah in Weill Hall. Long an annual tradition at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, the ABS took to the road and delivered a Christmas gift of epic proportions to an obviously thrilled and enth
Symphony
SHOSTAKOVICH FIFTH THUNDERS AT WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 5, 2021
In a new season marketed as “Classical Reunion,” the Santa Rosa Symphony made a palpable connection with its audience at the early December set of three standing ovation concerts in Weill Hall. The December 5 concert, with 1,000 attending, is reviewed here. Vaughan Williams’ popular Fantasia on a T
Chamber
THE LINCOLN RETURNS WITH CLARKE'S PUNGENT TRIO
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, November 18, 2021
There were many familiar faces Nov. 18 during Music at Oakmont’s initial concert of the season, but perhaps the most necessary were the three musicians of the Lincoln Piano Trio, the Chicago-based group that has performed often in Oakmont since 2006. A smaller than unusual audience in Berger Audito
Symphony
NOSTALGIC BARBER KNOXVILLE AT SO CO PHIL JACKSON THEATER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
In their first Jackson Theater appearance of the new season the Sonoma County Philharmonic presented Nov. 14 a program devoid of novelty, but showcasing the “People’s Orchestra” in splendid performance condition after a long COVID-related layoff. Conductor Norman Gamboa drew a committed and boister
Chamber
THRILLING PIANO QUINTETS IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 14, 2021
The Mill Valley Chamber Music Society sprang back to life on November 14 when a stellar ensemble from the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based collective, arrived to perform two piano quintets: Vaughn-Williams’ in C Minor (1903), little known and rarely performed; and Schubert’s in A Major D.
Chamber
MUSCULAR BRAHMS FROM IVES COLLECTIVE IN GLASER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Leaving SRJC’s Newman Auditorium for the first time in decades, the College’s Chamber Concert Series presented a season-opening concert Nov. 14 in Santa Rosa’s Glaser Center with the four-musician Bay-Area based Ives Collective. The season, the first given since 2020, is dedicated to Series Founder
Symphony
MONUMENTAL BRAHMS SYMPHONY HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY RETURN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 7, 2021
In the waning COVID pandemic the Marin Symphony is one of the last Bay Area orchestras to return to the stage, and they did with considerable fanfare Nov. 7 before 1,200 in Civic Center Auditorium, with resident conductor Alasdair Neale leading a demanding concert of Brahms, Schumann and New York-ba
Symphony
APOLLO'S FIRE LIGHTS UP VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Long ago the Canadian violin virtuoso Gil Shaham played a program in Weill Hall of solo Bach, with a visual backdrop of slowly developing visuals, such as a pokey flower opening over four minutes. The Bach was sensational, and some in the audience liked the photos but many found them disconcerting,
RECITAL REVIEW

Laura Magnani Playing Schubert Sept. 11 at Spring Lake Village

ECLECTIC DRAMATIC PROGRAMING IN SPRING LAKE VILLAGE RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Marin-based pianist Laura Magnani combined piquant remarks to an audience of 100 Sept. 11 with dramatic music making in a recital at Spring Lake Village’s Montgomery Center.

Ms. Magnani’s eclectic programming in past SLV recitals continued, beginning with three sonatas by her Italian compatriot Scarlatti, this evening the C Major (K. 159), D Minor (L. 366) and the A Major (K. 113).
Her comments from the stage juxtaposed harpsichord technique (the instrument the composer used) with the greater key weight and dip of the modern concert grand, and she proceeded to play each with deft use of the damper pedal, in one case holding it down lovingly through a beginning phrase.

Tempos in each were on the fast side and her cross hand and skip techniques made each come alive, with beguiling legato in the wonderful A Major. There were novel interpretative touches in each, and she arpeggiated the last Sonata’s final chord, again with ample pedal.

Dramatic playing continued with Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke, D. 946, three pieces written in the composer’s last year and that have become rightly popular. Seeming extensions from the Op. 94 Moments Musicaux, the E-Flat Minor and the C Major received readings that favored a vigorous sound over tonal beauty. The exception was the lyrical E-Flat Major, a slow waltz in character that Ms. Magnani played with bass pedal points and themes with sentiment but never sentimentality.

Gershwin’s Three Preludes (1934) followed, the allegro ben ritmato e deciso’s craggy rhythms having orchestral playing, the opposite of Ms. Magnani’s “hot house” interpretation of the short andante with jazzy blues qualities. The offbeat dissonances were effective.

The recital ended with Prokofiev’s energetic Second Sonata, Op. 14, and in her verbal introduction the pianist described it as having disturbing neuroticism and novel bi-tonality sections. It has become a specialty piece for Ms. Magnani, and the highlight of this concert. The hall’s bright acoustics and powerful piano produced a big sound, and the pianist was in each of the four movements up to the demands of the work written in 1912.

Muscular sforzando playing was heard in the brilliant scherzo movement, full of ideas and some of the recital’s best playing. The dirge-like andante was intensely played, even atmospheric at places, with the odd sound of “bells” blaring. The vivace had the requisite histrionic mood, a virtuosic perpetual motion tarantella performance that was clearly allied with the composer’s percussive Toccata from the same year as the D Minor Sonata

One could speculate that the often acerbic and demanding Sonata might find a tepid response from SLV residents, but the opposite was true with a standing ovation recognizing the artist’s potent and convincing pianism.

No encore formal was offered, though the pianist later played sections of Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu for admirers that gathered around the piano.