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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...
Chamber
SPLENDID STRINGS IN A SUNLIT GARDEN
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 1, 2020
A sun-drenched autumn afternoon, a Marin County garden and six superb string players from the Santa Rosa Symphony were manna from heaven to a pandemic-weary audience starved for live music. The sextet of Santa Rosa Symphony musicians performed to a small group of 20 Nov. 1, the day after Halloween....
RECITAL REVIEW
Sky Hill Cultural Alliance / Sunday, September 22, 2019
Elizabeth Walter pianist

Elizabeth Walter Playing Mozart Sept. 22 in Petaluma

GINASTERA'S PERCUSSIVE SONATA SHINES IN WALTER'S PETALUMA RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 22, 2019

Elizabeth Walter has had considerable impact on Petaluma’s classical music scene, actively promoting music programs in schools, producing concerts through her Sky Hill Cultural Alliance, and playing benefit concerts to raise funds for music in area schools. Sporadically she performs just for the music itself, and Sept. 22 found her in recital in the cozy Petaluma Historical Museum.

Programming four sonatas and playing from score throughout, the artist began with Mozart’s lyrical B Flat Sonata, K. 333, in a performance that featured relaxed tempos and conventional phrasing. The house piano has a bright and tonally thin top end that surprisingly added to the thematic and harmonic clarity. Trills in the charming andante cantabile were even, and in the extended rondo Ms. Walter departed from her temperate reading by letting in some musical “light” in the novel cadenza. The section is unique to Mozart’s 18 principal sonatas, and it was played with brio.

Beethoven’s early C Minor Sonata, Op. 13 (“Pathétique”) completed the first half, with Ms. Walter emphasizing some of the raw drama in the writing, with a judicious tempo in the opening grave-allegro. The held fermatas were loud and delicious. A strict tempo characterized the lovely adagio with just a little speed up in the middle, and steadfast rhythms in the rondo finale. Right-hand voices were underscored and sonic emphasis was changed where Ms. Walter wanted more sound in close hand positions.

In announcing Ravel’s Sonatine (a short sonata) from 1905, the pianist mentioned that it’s mostly a nostalgic minuet, and that her dog is named “minuet.” This playful work is seemingly uncomplicated, but the pianist’s measured rubato and direct approach lacked only richness of tone color, with the instrument both an ally and foe. The animé section had an elegant wash of sound.

A cornerstone in Ms. Walter’s repertoire, Ginastera’s Op. 22 Sonata, was the afternoon’s highlight, and extends the energetic Danzas Argentinas (composed 15 years prior) into a high-temperature percussive four-movement work of exceptional force. Ms. Walter rose to the occasion with the requisite contrary double octaves, heavy damper pedal and often-breathless potent speed. She caught the mystery of the rhapsodic adagio molto, and drove headstrong into the ostinato that concludes a wild sonic ride over fifteen minutes. There was introspection and also loud contrasts, and the small audience generated a resonant ovation at the final chord.

Ms. Walter’s pianism in this recital was secure and often forceful, and she eschewed histrionics and wayward realizations in favor of careful attention to the score and letting these majestic works unfold convincingly.