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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
CHAMBER REVIEW

Dmitry and Yulia Kouzov Feb. 14 in Sebastopol

BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020

Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125.

Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy opening, and cellist Dmitry Kouzov dug deeply into the strings at times, adding heft to what is a frothy piece that lasted just under 10 minutes. Pianist Yulia Kouzova played fluently and added to the beguiling effects of the composer’s unceasing originality.

The mood sharply changed with Brahms’ E Minor Sonata, Op. 38, and the Duo captured the dark colors and the cello line’s solemn march theme than never seems to rise into the high register. Mr. Kouzov is an artist with lots of head and body movement (many cellists do this) and used a wide vibrato in most of the work’s wonderful and brawny themes. The Church’s acoustics were direct with little reverberation, and the Allegro’s ending chord was lovely, the cello (low) and the piano (high) a fifth apart.

The middle movement was played with a graceful minuet between shorter outer sections, and the piano line never covered the cello. The fugal finale was played with off-beat accents and momentum, but Ms. Kouzova had difficulty with fast scales in the accelerando towards the end. Piano action repetition might have been the culprit, or the tempo was too brisk.

It was an exciting reading of Brahms' work from 1866, and following intermission Beethoven’s C Major Sonata, Op. 102, No. 1, was substituted for the originally announced Bach Second Suite. Well, it’s the Beethoven year, and the lyrical beginning was like a flower opening in serenity. Ms. Kouzov’s trills were even and, like much in late Beethoven, extended in length and often expressive.

This Sonata is quite different from its tumultuous predecessor (in A Major, Op. 69) and is harmonically complex, with many short thematic phrases and none of the somber nature of the Brahms. The Kouzovs deftly managed the many tempo changes and spotlighted the dissonances. It was a bright and challenging interpretation, and the evening’s highlight.

Completing the recital was a performance of Martinu’s spontaneous tour-de-force Variations on a Theme of Rossini, Op. 290, from 1942. The original theme was from the opera “Moses in Egypt,” and Paganini’s use of the theme was also a model for the composer. Regardless, the Kouzov Duo put the tune through its virtuosic paces, at times letting the piano and cello sound at cross-purposes. They played the many crescendos, decrescendos and stormy parts, with cello slides and the exciting coda brilliantly.

A standing ovation generated an encore of an opposite texture and mood, a transcription of Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, a Romance from Op. 34, No. 12. Here Mr. Kouzov beautifully matched the original vocal part in rich tone color, perfectly aligned with a sensitive pianissimo from his partner.

Pianist Andreas Klein performs at the next RAC concert March 20 in the Occidental Center for the Arts.