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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...
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.