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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

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.