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Chamber
SURPRISING IVES TRIO AND SONGS AT VMMF'S HANNA CENTER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 24, 2022
Chamber
SEMINAL SCHUBERT CYCLE PERFORMANCE FROM STEGALL-ZIVIAN AT VMMF
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, July 23, 2022
Opera
MARIN'S STRIPPED-DOWN OPERA CHARMS
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, July 17, 2022
Chamber
MOZART AND BRAHMS AN AUSPICIOUS COUPLE AT VMMF FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 17, 2022
Chamber
CLARINIST HOEPRICH'S VIRTUOSITY IN VMMF OPENING CONCERT
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, July 16, 2022
Recital
AGGRESSIVE PIANISM IN MYER'S MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 14, 2022
Opera
SONOROUS WAGNER GALA AND CAPACITY CROWD AT VALLEJO'S EMPRESS
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, July 9, 2022
Choral and Vocal
TRAVELING CHORISTERS SO CO DEBUT IN TWO BIG CANTATAS
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 25, 2022
Opera
VERDI'S THEATRICAL LA TRAVIATA TRIUMPHS AT CINNABAR
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Symphony
CLOUDS AND PASSION: MARIN SYMPHONY'S STELLAR CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, June 19, 2022
RECITAL REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Thursday, July 14, 2022
Spencer Myer, piano

Spencer Myer July 14 in Preston Hall

AGGRESSIVE PIANISM IN MYER'S MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 14, 2022

Indiana-based pianist Spencer Myer has been a welcome Mendocino Music Festival performer since 2010, and he renewed his personal connection with North Coast piano buffs July 14 in a short recital in Mendocino’s Preston Hall.

The afternoon was a mixed success, with Beethoven’s E Minor Sonata (Op. 90) opening the program before 75 listeners. In his remarks from the stage the artist mentioned the 1814 work as a threshold to the majestic five late Sonatas, and in many ways the opening movement playing reflected the drama that was to begin with the Op. 101 Sonata in A. There was assertive half pedaled scale playing and the Hall’s instrument (a rare Falcone 225) had a bright top end carried overly well. The lyrical Rondo unfolded in a straightforward manner, without much warmth of subtlety or phrase.

Throughout the recital Mr. Myer was in an exuberant mood, playing with considerable volume that in the small space produced more than adequate sound, and for the first few rows of attendees sitting seven feet from the piano, quite a sonic impact for some. In Debussy’s early Pour le Piano Suite the big march and glissandos were well played, and Mr. Myer built the stately chords of the Saraband with admirable control. There was clarity in the brilliant concluding Toccata, at a fast clip throughout, and the thunderous final four chords rang out and generated loud applause.

Following a brief pause Mr. Myer spoke of Chopin’s Impromptus and began with the A Flat that received a noisy, punched out performance that at the chosen tempo almost went off the rails. But not quite, and the added trill in the sostenuto and an inner voice in the recapitulation were welcome. The F Sharp was played aggressively with the final two chords fortissimo.

With the foregoing intense playing the G Flat (Op. 51) was a surprise, the pianist capturing the work’s nostalgia in a judicious tempo, albeit with limited rubato and limited tonal color. It was a nice contrast to the final C Sharp (Op. 66) performance, played very fast and lacking in clarity. Perhaps ratcheting back the tempo, or better articulation, would have made the popular work with the poetic middle section more convincing.

Two great Granados pieces from Goyescas ended the recital, El Amor y la Muerte and Los Requiebros, played from score. The playing in the first had the requisite Spanish flavor and rhythms but was too loud, the splendid operatic themes played with bass-heavy chords and a lovely mysterious ending. Mr. Myer let some air into the Requiebros (“flattery”) and charm returned to his playing, as did off-beat accents and perfectly graded decrescendos and piquant Catalan harmonies.

An encore was offered, the softly lilting E Flat Intermezzo from Brahms’ Op. 117, and the reading eschewed the usually-heard folk song dreaming and had a husky character and dynamic contrasts.