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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
Chamber
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 “
Chamber
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
Chamber
ECLECTIC PROGRAMMING AT PIANOSONOMA CONCERT IN SCHROEDER HALL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
After a dark year bereft of live performance, pianoSonoma launched July 20 the first Vino & Vibrato concert of the 2021 season in Sonoma State's Schroeder Hall, albeit sadly senza vino due to Covid protocols. Three exceptional musicians showered the audience with an interesting variety of pia
Chamber
RARELY-PLAYED SCHUMANN HIGHLIGHTS HEALDSBURG RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 10, 2021
Brave New Music sporadically produces concerts in and around Healdsburg, and July 10’s violin recital in downtown St. Paul’s Church must have been one of the first post-lockdown, post-be-extra-careful classical music concerts in Sonoma County's summer season. New Music Founder Gary McLaughlin with
Chamber
ECHOS ON A WARM SUMMER NIGHT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, July 10, 2021
ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s first concert in a year and a half, “A Musical Promenade,” was a promenade indeed. When patrons arrived at San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for the 6:00 performance July 10, they were funneled through the garden to the Duncan Hall patio, where folding chairs were set
Chamber
LONG DISTANCE LOVE BEGINS VOM SUMMER FESTIVAL
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Thursday, June 24, 2021
The Valley of the Moon Music Festival offered a 7th season preview June 24 with a stunning online concert, aptly named Long Distance Love, featuring inspired performances of Beethoven's short song cycle An die ferne Geliebte,, and selections from Brahms’ beloved Liebeslieder Wal
Recital
ROMERO'S ARTISTRY IN SLV RECITAL PROGRAMMING AND PERFORMANCE
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Gustavo Romero has been an admired visitor to North Bay stages, playing over a decade recitals at Dominican University, the Music at Oakmont concerts and at the Spring Lake Village Concert Series. He returned June 2 to SLV in a virtual recital, videoed from his home concert hall the University of N
RUBICON'S VIRTUAL CONCERT A MALANGE OF CONTRASTS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, May 16, 2021
The inaugural concert of a new Mendocino County chamber group is a reason for celebration, and the Rubicon Trio made the most of a mixed musical menu during a May16 virtual concert. Presented by the Ukiah Symphony Orchestra as the last in their “Salons with the Symphony” Series, the Rubicon began w
Recital
PIANO VIRTUOSITY IN YAKUSHEV'S REDWOOD ARTS RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev’s recital for the Redwood Arts Council was perhaps the local season’s virtual music at the greatest distance, as the filming May 16 came from a church in St. Petersburg. And good filming it was, with multiple camera viewpoints of the church, full and split screens and
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.