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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

Violinist Itzhak Perlman

PERLMAN TRIUMPHS IN LOW TEMPERATURE SOLD OUT WEILL HALL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 15, 2019

Itzhak Perlman did a rare thing for a classical musician in his Sept. 15 recital – he sold out Weill Hall’s 1,400 seats, with 50 more on stage. Clearly the violinist has an adoring local audience that came to hear him perform with pianist Rohan De Silva in a concert of two substantial sonatas mixed with lightweight fare and jovial commentary from the stage.

In each of his two Weill appearances over six years the artist has performed a conventional and conservative program that was designed more to entertain than to challenge listeners, but the musical entertainment was as usual of a felicitous nature that featured his legendary silvery string sound at the expense of sonic power and thematic projection. This was immediately apparent during the entire first half during Beethoven’s charming E-Flat Major Sonata (Op. 12, No. 3) and the brilliant Franck A Major.

Playing from score throughout Mr. Perlman had an uneasy start in the early Beethoven, with uneven pitch and Mr. De Silva’s piano sound covering the violin line, and that at often half pedal. Clarity emerged in the wonderful adagio and the playing solidified, although the violinist slid quietly into the final note. Most of the thematic interest in the concluding Rondo was carried by Mr. De Silva, though Mr. Perlman found the fast tempo easily agreeable.

Franck’s great Sonata from 1886 should have been the afternoon’s big success, and the violinist charmingly mentioned to the audience that in a backstage discussion with Mr. Franck (he died in 1890!) appreciative clapping should wait until the entire work is played. How was the Franck played? It was a low temperature reading without power at the many places the score seems to demand. Mr. Perlman had a sweet tone at low volume but didn’t project the seminal themes in the allegro. More interesting playing came from the pianist with subtle ritards, inner voices and changing phrases in repetitions. The two dramatic downward drives to bottom bass notes (piano) juxtaposed with high violin notes, the Sonata’s heart, never soared with emotional heat.

Mr. Perlman’s best playing in the Franck came in the Fantasia, where below mezzo forte his tone color gleamed over long sustained notes, though pitch problems again reappeared. Mr. De Silva contributed novel phrasing in this beguiling movement, and the concluding allegretto was played graciously at a judicious tempo.

The jaunty Dvorák G Major Sonatina (Op.100) found Mr. Perlman in his best form, where his restrained playing worked well to highlight the folk melodies and sprightly dances in the four movements. There were evocative flute effects and light lyricism in each part, underscoring the friendly Dvorak harmonies that were inspired by the composer’s American residence. The audience loved the interpretation, as did I.

As in past recitals the violinist and pianist then return to the stage with an array of more sheet music, and Mr. Perlman coquettishly fishes through some, nods to the pianist and mugs the audience with a looks of “well, this might be good” or “hmmm, haven’t see this one before.” This schtick belies the obvious, that the duo knows exactly what they are going to play as announced encores, and have rehearsed each carefully. Admiration from the audience was immediate, and five pieces followed: a baroque work that was nearly a perpetual mobile; Tchaikovsky’s lovely Op. 2 Chanson Sans Perole in the Kreisler arrangement, where the violinist made a pun on the jailhouse word “parole,” and surprisingly his intonation in this short piece was insecure; Prokofiev’s March from the opera “Love for Three Oranges” in the Heifetz arrangement; John Williams’ memorable theme from the movie “Schindler’s List” (a Perlman staple); and finally Wieniawski’s virtuosic A Minor work from the Etudes-Caprices of Op. 18.

Mr. Perlman’s persona and audience rapport were a delight to behold, and a Weill full house (for a classical performer) is quite uncommon. At age 74 the violinist seems content to play repertoire that matches his reserved interpretative goals and impeccable musical taste.