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Symphony
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
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...
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...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Redwood Arts Council / Sunday, March 28, 2021
Tanya Tomkins, cello; Eric Zivian, piano

Eric Vivian and Tanya Tomkins

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 Berkeley studio, the fourth RAC event of the season.

As usual the musical mix was intriguing. Over the recent Beethoven anniversary year Mr. Zivian essayed the 32 Beethoven Sonatas using pianos of the composer’s period, and in this recital he chose the popular D Minor work from Op. 31 (“Tempest”) and caught the mystery in the opening Largo-Allegro’s recitatives. Playing from score and with feet in socks, the pianist made the most of the limited dynamic contrasts available in this fortepiano, albeit aided by amplification.

Tempos throughout were judicious with occasional rolled left-hand chords adding interest, juxtaposed with the piano’s inherent lack of sustain in the many arpeggios. Scale playing was clean in the final Allegretto and the forte descending passage a few bars before the end was played with sprightly two hands rather than in single-hand octaves. A nice touch.

Ms. Tomkins introduced and played a six-minute Offenbach work, Les Larmes de Jacqueline (Jacqueline’s tears), Op. 76, No. 2, with Mr. Zivian. It’s almost always played with orchestra, and here the cellist drew long phrase endings from her instrument, tasteful vibrato and underscored the many modulations. This piece richly wanders about with at times schmaltzy yearning and elegant low register music for the cello. Perhaps this was a North Coast premiere performance?

Mr. Zivian played an 1841 piano (Rausch, made in Odessa) for this work and the following Rubinstein Melodie, Op. 3, No. 1, in the cellist David Popper’s transcription. In the spoken introduction Ms. Tomkins mentioned the cello had two gut strings, and Mr. Zivian clarified that the composer of the Melodie was not the Polish pianist Artur Rubinstein, who did not compose. It’s understandable that this identification is often made, but also sad as Artur was but an important 20th Century pianist, and Anton was the second greatest pianist in history. Most people today would not recognize the once popular Melodie, or even McDowell’s To A Wild Rose. Times have changed. The middle section transition was all Popper, and Ms. Tomkins closed with lovely ascending phrase with a double stop.

Concluding was Beethoven’s D Major Sonata from 1815, Op. 102, No. 2, and Mr. Zivian returned to his 1798 instrument. This quirky work was played that way in the opening Allegro con Brio with many tempo changes and explosive phrasing. Playing from score, Ms. Tomkins playing in the Adagio brought a deep sadness to the slow march, morphing into lyrical sections that were characterized by “luftpause” cessations. The piano line everywhere blended well with the cello.

A complex fugue unfolded in the finale (Allegro), the playful counterpoint impressive where the major interest is mostly with the cello. The ending was stylish, tying up a movement of contrasts so different from the preceding C Major and A Major Beethoven Sonatas. There were charming bits of humor from the playing of both instruments in the final movement.

During the video there were numerous visual dropouts and still frames, but the audio was clear and without distortion. Series producer Sonia Tubridy led a Q and A with the artists following the Sonata.