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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...
RECITAL REVIEW
Redwood Arts Council / Sunday, May 16, 2021
Ilya Yakushev, piano

Pianist Ilya Yakushev

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 close ups of the performer’s hands and face.

The sound in the opening Beethoven C Minor Sonata (Op. 13 “Pathétique”) was full of color, Mr. Yakushev playing the Grave section with measured clarity and the Allegro pulsing and explosive. The famous Adagio was played with beautifully voiced yearning. In the finale the pianist’s reading had plenty of drive, a powerful interpretation with imaginative phrasing.

Another Beethoven Sonata followed, the even more popular “Moonlight” from Op. 27, and the tempo was gently flowing but never languished. The Allegretto had the requisite dance character, and the concluding Presto Agitato had plenty of fire, opposite of the first movement, and had orchestral sonority combined with surprising clarity.

Chopin’s Op. 38 Ballade No. 2 is played less often than the bucolic third and the seminal G Minor and F Minor, but it is no less a creative triumph. Mr. Yakushev captured the folk–like material at the opening and the wild outbursts that subsequently occur. The range of his playing reflected gentleness, sadness and then sonic anger and furious scales passages fading back into an eerie quiet. It was a Russian specialty performance from the tradition of Anton Rubinstein.

A wide-ranging color and touch characterized the playing in Tchaikovsky’s Dumka, Op. 59, composed in 1886. The village dance piece had ample shimmer and rhythmic interest from Mr. Yakushev’s magical fingers (and feet), and was an emotional highlight of the recital.

The performance concluded with Liszt’s Valée de Obermann, No. 6 in the Swiss Années de Pèlerinage written over the period 1835-1852. The playing reflected all of the composer’s demons and angels, with pianistic simplicity, mystery and pure beauty often exploding into aural fireworks. Double octave accuracy and sparkling trill technique was admirable. This was passionate and brilliant pianism, the artist exploring the full range of his instrument.

Following the 4 a.m. (!) performance Mr. Yakushev answered audience questions in faultless English for the RAC video, accepting a tendered invitation for a personal appearance on the series’ Occidental stage in a future year.

Sonia Tubridy contributed to this review.