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Chamber
SPARKLING WIND, STRING, HARP MUSIC AT DEVON HOUSE GARDEN CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Take a mild autumn evening, a garden gazebo with patterned rugs and lit with soft bulbs, shake in a fine chamber ensemble, add a rising new moon, and you have a recipe for the musical delight that violist Elizabeth Prior presented Oct. 9 in her Devon House Garden Concert series. The Marin Terra Li
Recital
AUTHORITATIVE BEETHOVEN SONATA IN KLEIN'S OCCIDENTAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, October 8, 2021
People attending the first Redwood Arts Council Occidental concert in 20 months found a surprise – a luxurious new lobby attached to the Performing Arts Center. It was a welcome bonus to a recital given by pianist Andreas Klein where the music seemed almost as familiar as was the long shuttered hal
Symphony
MOVIE MUSIC ON THE WINDSOR GREEN IN SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 3, 2021
People approaching the Windsor Green bandstand Oct. 3 for the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s season opening concert had some cause for concern. After 18 months of silence would the all-volunteer orchestra have enough musicians for a big movie music program? After all, performers can move, retire, or
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY RETURNS IN TRIUMPH
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 3, 2021
It is often the case that a single piece or performer steals the show at a symphony concert, but at the Oct. 3 performance of the Santa Rosa Symphony, the show itself stole the show. The concert opened with a serene 1982 tone poem by Libby Larsen, followed by a masterful performance by soloist Julia
Symphony
TWO WIND SOLOISTS CHARM AT SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 26, 2021
The house of music has many rooms. That dusty adage was never truer than when Weill Hall Sept. 25 hosted a roaring New Orleans-style musical party, and less than a day later a mostly sedate Sonoma State University student orchestra performance. Before a crowd of 200 conductor Alexander Kahn led a
Other
CLEARY'S NEW ORLEANS BAND IGNITES PARTY FOR THE GREEN AT SSU
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 25, 2021
A dramatic and unique start to the new Green Music’s Center’ 2021-2022 season exploded in a “Party for the Green” Sept. 25, a New Orleans (NO) style commotion featuring Jon Cleary and his Absolute Monster Gentlemen band, inside and outside of Weill Hall. Beginning with a private gourmet dinner in t
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
Chamber
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
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.