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GAULIST FLAVOR IN FINAL SF PIANO FESTIVAL CONCERT AT OLD FIRST
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Final summer music festival programs are often a mix of what has come before, with the theme and even a featured composer taking a last stage appearance, with a dramatic wrap up composition. San Francisco’s International Piano Festival defied the norm August 29 with an eclectic French-flavored prog
SPARE DUO PRECEDES MYSTEROUS DUO AT DEN BOER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, August 27, 2021
In a departure from usual summer festival fare Julia Den Boer played an August 27 virtual recital in the San Francisco Piano Festival’s 4.5 season with four works, all mostly quiet but all in separate ways insistently demanding of artist and listener. Throughout the 40 minutes there was nary a powe
HARMONIC COMPLEXITY IN PHILLIPS' ALL-GRIFFES RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, August 20, 2021
Charles Griffes’ piano music is similar to that of Busoni, Reger and even Poulenc, in that there is a sporadic flourish of interest with concerts and scholarly work, then a quick fade into another long period of obscurity. So, it was a delight to have an all-Griffes recital August 20 on the San F
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ONE PIANO, TWO PIANO, THREE PIANO, FORE
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Schroeder Hall was nearly full July 29 for the final pianoSonoma concert of their season, and presumably the draw and highlight for many of the 150 attending was Bach’s Concerto for Four Pianos. And that performance was probably going to be a North Bay premiere. However, it wasn’t the highl
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PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT FEATURES GORGEOUS VOCALISM
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Thursday, July 29, 2021
The 2021 Valley of the Moon Music Festival continued on July 29 with a sumptuous online offering of French songs, concluding with the second piano quartet by Fauré, Op. 45. Such a beautiful bouquet of video performances wonderfully filmed and recorded softened the disappointment of not being able to
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SIX GUITARISTS IN UNIQUE NAPA RECITAL
by Gary Digman
Sunday, July 25, 2021
The first Napa Valley Guitar Festival was held at Napa’s First Presbyterian Church July 25, and featured performances from six classical guitarists. The Church is an iconic structure in downtown Napa, its huge white presence dominating the scene, and the white theme continues inside punctuated by be
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BOGAS' TENURE ENDS IN OUTDOOR GUALALA CHAMBER CONCERT
by Iris Lorenzfife
Sunday, July 25, 2021
The preconcert call that music lovers should gather at Gualala Arts July 25 to attend the final Roy Bogas and Friends Concert was not quite as dire as it sounded. It seems that a year of Covid 19 and an 88th birthday had combined to convince Mr. Bogas that he was working too hard. But with cellist P
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CLARA SCHUMANN TRIO COMMANDS VOM CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT AT HANNA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 24, 2021
The Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Series has begun several virtual and a few live concerts in its new seventh season, some broadcast from Sonoma’s Hanna Center Hall and some in posh local venues. July 24’s video had a small live audience and a well-produced video program of three works. Titled “
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RARE LANG SONGS SPARKLE AT VOM FESTIVAL VIDEO RECITAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Unexpected pleasures are often the best. Valley of the Moon Chamber Festival presented a such a pleasure last week-a July 21 recorded performance by tenor Kyle Stegall and pianist Eric Zivian in another mini-recital (very mini-just 15 minutes!) of six songs by the nineteenth century German composer
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EXEMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MENDO FESTIVAL FT. BRAGG CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Faced with the impossibility of presenting concerts in the iconic large white tent on the bluff, the Mendocino Music Festival opted to use Ft. Bragg’s Cotton Auditorium for ten events in the abbreviated 35th season. San Francisco’s Alexander String Quartet played July 21 to a fully masked audience
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.