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Friday, May 27, 2016
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 Recent Reviews
SYMPHONY
A SOUND TO BEHOLD
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, May 07, 2016
Concert titles are rarely specific, but the one for the Santa Rosa Symphony’s May 7 concert, “Jazzy Impressions,” is as literal as they get. The first half consisted of two American pieces influenced by jazz, and the second of two French works in the impressionist style. Pairing two similar pieces ...
RECITAL
A WANDERING MILLER IN SCHUBERT'S AGELESS CYCLE
by Mark Kratz
Sunday, April 24, 2016
The Green Center’s Weill Hall is a Sonoma County treasure that allows North Bay audiences to enjoy the world’s finest musicians against the backdrop of our grapevine-covered hills. German baritone Matthias Goerne and pianist Alexander Schmalcz presented a recital of Schubert’s song cycle "Die Schön...
RECITAL
EERIE SCHUBERT AND SOPORIFIC BRAHMS IN MIDORI RECITAL IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 23, 2016
California has long been a big part of Midori Goto’s career, and she now teaches and tours from the USC campus in Los Angeles. After never performing in Sonoma County, the violinist’s area debut April 23 in Weill was a moderate success before an audience of 800 that included a large sprinkling of s...
CHORAL AND VOCAL
EASTER AND ASCENSION ORATORIOS SOAR IN ABS MARIN CONCERT
by Joanna Bramel Young
Friday, April 22, 2016
Three baroque composers were brought together April 22 at the American Bach Soloists‘ offering of oratorios: Buxtehude, Johann Kuhnau and Bach. In Belvedere’s St. Stephen’s Church the ABS highlighted the sequence of influence for these three masters, displaying stunning choral singing, virtuoso in...
RECITAL
CHRISTIE RETURNS TO SCHROEDER WITH THE FAMILIAR AND THE NEW
by James Harrod
Sunday, April 17, 2016
Organist James David Christie returned to Schroeder Hall on the SSU campus April 17 to play an awesome concert of Baroque music on the Hall’s Brombough Opus 9 organ. The artist performed to a large appreciative and attentive audience, and presented both familiar and unknown musical selections from t...
CHORAL AND VOCAL
CHANTICLEER SINGS TO THE MOON IN WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, April 16, 2016
The renowned male a cappella  Chanticleer choir presented an "Over the Moon" program April 15 at the Green Music Centers Weill Hall.  The audience, including many choral music cognoscenti, was entranced by a varied and enriching program spanning centuries and continents. The theme of the evening was...
SYMPHONY
SPANISH SPLENDOR IN SO CO PHIL'S SEASON FINALE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Two program staples for the Sonoma County Philharmonic have been works of a Latin flavor, and spotlighting local soloists. Conductor Norman Gamboa has mounted intriguing Central American, Mexican and Spanish works for years, and flutist Kathleen Lane Reynolds, pianists Alice Zhu Lauren Xie, and tro...
RECITAL
OAKMONT 25TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT FEATURES KAHANE'S SCHUBERT AND CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Jeffery Kahane spreads his musical largess widely. Since leaving a Sonoma County residence for Colorado the pianist has returned often for performances, the most recent the wildly successful ChamberFest series at the Green Music Center last summer. April 10 found him again in Sonoma County, this t...
SYMPHONY
COLORFUL FALLA AND PROVOCATIVE BRITTEN WORKS IN SRS WEILL HALL CONCERTS
by Terry McNeill
Monday, April 04, 2016
Current fashion in orchestra season marketing showcases themes, and it’s de rigueur now, from the fledgling Sonoma County Philharmonic to the august San Francisco Symphony. Some of these themes are inane, but the Santa Rosa Symphony’s set of three concerts beginning April 2, with the event ...
RECITAL
LISZT AND CHOPIN THE VEHICLE FOR ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATTS' WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Friday, April 01, 2016
In the public eye for more than 50 years, Andre Watts is a legendary American pianist from the bygone era of William Kapell and Gary Graffman. Dressed in concert tails, old fashioned now to some, he reverted April 1 to a another long ago virtuoso’s choice by bringing to his Weill Hall recital his o...
Local Concerts  
RECITAL REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Friday, May 06, 2016
Yuja Wang, piano

Yuja Wang at Weill Hall. (Photo by Susan Dzieza.)

AT THE BOUNDARIES OF MUSICAL EXPLORATION

by Sonia Morse Tubridy and Nicki Bell
Friday, May 06, 2016

On May 6 at Weill Hall, pianist Yuja Wang gave a much-anticipated recital of Brahms, Schumann and Beethoven. This young artist has been heralded internationally for her brilliant virtuosic technique and sensational performances. In this recital, her first to focus on a Beethoven sonata, she played his monumental "Hammerklavier" (op. 106), as well as Brahms' Ballades (Op. 10, Nos. 1/2) and Schumann's "Kreisleriana."

Wang began with the Brahms with the first Brahms Ballade, nicknamed "Edward" after a Scottish murder ballad. The opening was hushed and brooding, with Wang's fingers evoking vast spaces and sorrow, but also consolation and peace. It was magical sound painting with remarkable dynamic control. From the first quiet chord, Wang pulled the audience of around 1,000 with her to a place of intensely focused attention, swelling to loud and heavy chords and then back to whispers of sound.

The second Ballade brought the light of a major tonality in rising figures over a murmuring tide-like bass pattern. An ominous sixteenth-note pattern interrupts the delicate flow, leading to a vigorous gallop and then back to a sense of beauty and peaceful joy. This music was intimate and thoughtful, every sound meaningfully reflecting the depth of the composer's spirit. Wang could sing with gentle softness and contrast this with thick chords of great drama. Particularly moving were a beautiful tenor melody and masterful layering of sounds.

Schumann's Kreisleriana was in part inspired by an ETA Hoffman story about a composer named Kreisler who is not appreciated by "philistines" who just want light entertainment. The piece features Schumann's two contrasting musical personality types: Florestan and Eusebius. Fiery Florestan bursts forth, but Eusebius is relaxed, contemplative and dreamy. Wang succeeded in creating the different voices, growing out of each other, complementing inner dialogues and a sense of exploration. Grotesque and lyrical sections emerged, capriciousness and poetic song followed each other. Wang's artistry was exquisite and led to precious moments when pianist, instrument and listeners become immersed in an enveloping musical consciousness. When the story reached an end, Wang concluded with charm and humor. The pianistic clarity was a delight.

The second half of the program consisted entirely of the Hammerklavier sonata, composed by Beethoven in a period of great personal anguish culminating in the suicide of his beloved nephew. It is a forbidding challenge, both technically and musically. The opening chords of the Allegro, with their dotted rhythms, were suitably heroic and quickly dissolved into small groupings of motives that were constantly transformed, sometimes sounding like free improvisations and other times being pulled back to strict form. Wang used the enormous range of her instrument to create full orchestral sounds, deep rumbles, ethereal floating pitches, wild outbursts and calm sections, often simultaneously.

The fierce Scherzo, punctuated by furious repeated octaves, led to the Adagio, the heart of the sonata. This started with simple understatement and then increasing inner motion, leading to transcendental conciliation. The bridge at the end leads through uncertainty to the Finale, a fugue in three voices. The movement is a tour de force of composition, requiring of the performer virtuosic leaps, trills and furious tempi, all while managing a lengthy 108-note fugal subject.

A great performance of the Hammerklavier can grab the audience and carry it to the edge of madness until the final solid chords set them down on firm land, forever altered. Wang was up to this task. She played with courage, fire and a mature understanding of this unique and transformative sonata.

Thunderous applause had Wang return for four entertaining encores, seriousness eschewed for the complex rhythms of Kapustin's Toccata. Then two transcriptions: the Gluck/Svengeti "Dance of the Spirits" and the Schubert/Lizst "Gretchen am Spinnrade." The final encore was a humorous, jazzy arrangement of Mozart's "Rondo alla Turk" by Volotus. Wang's spirited pleasure in her own formidable abilities marked a lighthearted end to a serious and emotionally demanding program.

Events Calendar

OPERA
Cinnabar Theater
Friday, June 10, 2016
8:00 PM - Petaluma
Cinnabar Theater Orchestra, Mary Chun, conductor. Jacob Thompson, Tamino; Eugene Walden, Papageno;
Mozart: Opera "The Magic Flute", K. 620 Stage Direction: Elly Lichenstein; Costumes: Lisa Claybaugh: Lighting: Wayne Hovey Adults: $40; Under 21, $25; Jr/Sr High, $9 (June 10 Only); Additional perfo...
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CHAMBER
Marin Baroque
Saturday, June 18, 2016
7:00 PM - San Anselmo
Daniel Canosa, Director. Calextone: Shira Kammen, ville and medieval harp; Letitia Berlin, recorder
Solarium (Sun Stands Still). Works by Dufay, Johannes Ciconia, Matteo da Perugia and other anonymous pieces. Reception follows concert. Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2537301 ...
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CHORAL AND VOCAL
Sonoma State University Department of Music
Saturday, June 18, 2016
7:30 PM - Rohnert Park
Berkshire Choral International, Santas Rosa Symphony. Robert Gstaad, conductor
Handel: Oratorio "Israel in Egypt", HWV 54 Admission: $15 to $30...
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CHAMBER
ChamberFest One - Sonoma State University
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
7:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Jon Kimura Parker and Jeffrey Kahane, piano; Angelo Xiang Yu, violin; Aloysia Friedman, viola; Desmo
Schubert: Fantasy in F Minor, D. 940 (for piano four hands); Mozart: Violin and Piano Sonata in B-Flat Major, K. 454; Schubert: Quintet in A Major, D. 667 (Trout) Admission: $30...
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CHAMBER
ChamberFest Two - Sonoma State University
Thursday, June 23, 2016
7:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Jeffrey Kahane and Jon Kimura Parker, piano; Miró Quartet:
Daniel Ching and William Fedkenheur,
Mozart: Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, K. 448; Schubert: String Quintet, D. 956 Admission: $30...
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CHAMBER
ChamberFest Three - Sonoma State University
Friday, June 24, 2016
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Benjamin Bellman, violin; Paul Neubauer, viola; Desmond Hoebig, cello; Jeffrey Kahane, piano
Mozart: Divertimento in E-Flat Major for String Trio, K. 563: Mendelssohn: Trio No. 1 in D, Op. 49 Admission: $30...
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CHAMBER
ChamberFest Four - Sonoma State University
Friday, June 24, 2016
7:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Jon Kimura Parker and Jeffrey Kahane, piano; Laura Reynolds, oboe; Daniel Shifrin, clarinet; Douglas
Mendelssohn: Andante and Allegro Brillant in A Major, Op. 92 (Duetto); Mozart: Quintet for Piano and Winds in E-Flat Major, K. 452; Schubert: Trio No. 1 in B-Flat Major, D. 898 Admission: $30...
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CHAMBER
ChamberFest Five - Sonoma State University
Saturday, June 25, 2016
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Miró Quartet: Daniel Ching, Aloysia Friedman and William Fedkenheuer, violin; John Largess, viola; J
Schubert: Quartet No. 12 in C Minor, D. 703 (Quartettsatz); Schubert: Quartet No. 15 in G Major, D. 887; Mozart: Horn Quintet, K. 407 Admission: $30...
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CHAMBER
ChamberFest Six - Sonoma State University
Saturday, June 25, 2016
7:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Miró Quartet: Daniel Ching and William Fedkenheuer, violin; John Largess, viola; Joshua Gindale, cel
Schubert: Sonata in A Minor (Arpeggione) for cello and piano, D. 821; Mozart: Quartet in G Minor, K. 516; Mendelssohn: Octet for Strings in E-Flat Major, Op. 20 Admission: $30...
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CHAMBER
ChamberFest Seven - Sonoma State University
Sunday, June 26, 2016
3:00 PM - Rohnert Park
Santa Rosa Symphony. Jeffrey Kahane, conductor. Jon Kimura Parker and Jeffrey Kahane, piano; David S
Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622; Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola (E-Flat Major), K. 364; Horn Concerto No. 1 in D Major; Concerto for Two Pianos in E-Flat Major. K. 365 Admissi...
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