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Recital
KAHANE RECITAL HELPS INAUGURATE SCHROEDER HALL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Jeffrey Kahane returns frequently to Sonoma County in conducting and concerto performance, but rarely in recital. Two past solo events come to mind, a "fantasy" program where the Copland outshone the Schumann and Chopin, and an uneven concert capped by Chopin's F Minor Ballade. A jammed Schroeder ...
Recital
HERE COMES THE ORGAN!
by James Harrod
Saturday, August 23, 2014
The rich sounds of Dutch Renaissance organ flutes, reeds, and mixtures sounded in Sonoma County August 23 when James David Christie inaugurated the new Schroeder Hall pipe organ installation at Sonoma State University. Under the performer’s experienced and sensitive touch, the Brombaugh Opus 9 mech...
Recital
UNHURRIED COMMAND IN MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Pianist Robert Schwartz opened Mendocino Music Festival’s piano series July 17 with a set of works in a recital made for keyboard connoisseurs. His success was doubly gratifying for the artist as he had played on the same stage at last year’s Festival, but had to cancel most of the recital due to il...
Recital
ELEGANCE AND INTROSPECTION
by Nicki Bell
Sunday, May 18, 2014
A May 18 Weill Hall audience was led by the hands and heart of Richard Goode to a quiet realm of the sublime with a performance of the masterful last three Beethoven Piano Sonatas. The program was billed as the first time the artist has toured with the Op. 109, 110 and 111 pieces, and these weighty...
Recital
PRISTINE CONTROL, SUBDUED EMOTION
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Hilary Hahn’s April 27 Weill Hall recital found the violinist entering the stage without her instrument, beginning ten minutes of comments about the program. She does these introductions well, and most of the audience enjoyed the discourse comparing Schubert's Fantasia for Violin with Schoenberg’s t...
Recital
DRAMATIC DIVA SINGS WORKS OF AMERICAN COMPOSERS IN WEILL
by Vaida Falconbridge
Sunday, April 13, 2014
After opening her April 13 Weill Hall recital with the bright “The Year’s at the Spring,” probably Amy Beach’s best-known song, soprano Deborah Voigt paused for a moment to say to the audience, “When we were putting the program together, we had no idea it would be so apropos!” Continuing with the ...
Recital
RUSSIAN PIANIST, RUSSIAN MUSIC, RUSSIAN DRAMA
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 13, 2014
In the season’s penultimate Sonoma Classical Music Society concert on Sunday afternoon, April 13, Russian pianist Anastasia Dedik played an all-Russian program that was heavy on drama with just a modicum of lyricism. Two Rachmaninoff Etudes Tableaux opened the program, the E-Flat Minor from Op. 33 ...
Recital
WARM SPRING MUSIC AND ART IN CAS ORGAN RECITAL
by Jim Harrod
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Spring brought flowers and the virtuoso organist Faythe Freese to play a joyful recital on March 23 at Santa Rosa’s Resurrection Parish. Both the artist and the beautiful spring weather were most welcome, and the event was part of the Creative Arts Series. Ms. Freese, Professor of Organ at The Un...
Recital
MOK ONE SPEED AND ELEGANCE IN SRJC CHAMBER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 16, 2014
After a decade-long absence, Gwendolyn Mok returned to the SRJC Chamber Series Feb. 16 in a gem of a balanced and elegant piano recital. Before an audience of 140 in the College’s Newman Auditorium, the San Jose-based artist began with Beethoven’s early A Major Sonata, Op. 2, No. 2. She quickly cau...
Recital
HU'S ON FIRST, SECOND AND THIRD
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Music at Oakmont in their eight-concert season features mostly instrumental ensembles, and rarely pianists. But when they do the pianists are pretty good. Ching-Yun Hu's performance Feb.13 in Berger Auditorium, for example, was at a first-cabin level of virtuosity. A conventional repertoire first h...
RECITAL REVIEW
Concerts Grand / Sunday, October 30, 2011
Frank Wiens, piano

Frank Wiens Plays Falla's Cubana Oct. 30 at Mendocino College (G. Louie Photo)

WIENS' SPANISH PROGRAM CHARMS CONCERTS GRAND AUDIENCE AT MENDOCINO COLLEGE

by Mendo Cinco
Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pianist Frank Wiens is a popular visitor to Northern California concert halls as recitalist and lecturer, but has strangely been absent from Mendocino County for decades. Under the auspices of the Concerts Grand series, this oversight was corrected Oct. 30 in a memorable recital at Mendocino College’s intimate Choral Room.

In a program that was almost exclusively Spanish music, Mr. Wiens began with chaste readings of two Soler Sonatas, in D Minor (DR 11) and D Major (DR 84). There was no rushing in the first, a beguiling reading, and the second was more Scarlatti like with a whirl of repeated notes, sharply-etched ornaments and an artful blending of themes. The D Major was a specialty of the late Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha, as were additional works that don’t attract many virtuoso pianists.

Two Albeniz pieces from his Iberia Suite came next, Evocacion and the familiar Triana. The pianist had exceptional rhythmic and pianissimo control in the first, the top notes singing and the many ritards subtle and impressionistic. In the F-Sharp Minor Triana (a suburb of Seville) Mr. Wiens evoked the flavor of a fiesta with dramatic gypsy chord playing.

A highlight of the afternoon was Falla’s four Pieces Espagnoles, from 1908, and probably a North Bay premiere performance. The opening Jota was a dance of percussive and brassy phrases, carefully gauged by Mr. Wiens, as was the seductive Cubana. Here the artist was in no hurry, underplaying the many modulations and meandering into unexpected sonic thickets. The third section, Montañesa, was played unaffectedly and with charm, and some use of the sostenuto pedal. It elicited a solo “bravo” from a listener, moving the artist to hold up one finger that indicated that the final Andaluza was to come. In this section Mr. Wiens’ playing sounded castanets in a Flamenco style, a bright dance that was improvisational but of course was pianistically impeccable.

The first half’s concluding work, Liszt’s Spanish Rhapsody, brought the audience of 37 to its feet in loud applause. The opening surprisingly did not have a fast tempo, with ample pedal point, and the rapid right hand arpeggiated chords resounded and did the accurate skips. The pianist sought clarity over speed in the tsunami of notes and the syncopated rhythms (Madrid rhythms?) and quick glissandos were exciting to hear. The standard ending was chosen over the more powerful ending fashioned by Busoni.

In a piece dedicated to the Spanish pianist Ricardo Viñes, Rodrigo’s toccata-like A l’ombre de Torre Bermeja began the second half in a rhapsodic vein far removed from the preceding Lisztian fireworks. The lyrical middle section was played elegantly, and the following bell phrases in both hands were telling. Mr. Wiens underscored the abstruse dissonances. The same could be said of his playing of two Granados works, the familiar Maiden and the Nightingale and Los Requiebros (Flattery) from the monumental Suite Goyescas. The long melody in the tenor in Maiden was captivatingly played, the many trills light and even, and ending with dainty filigree. The second work seemed to be too sectionalized, lacking clarity, the double notes never lucid.

Debussy’s La Puerta Del Vino from Book Two of his Preludes was the penultimate programmed work, and here was projected boldly with boisterous phrasing. A more boisterous piece, the Horowitz transcription of Bizet’s opera Carmen, concluded for formal program in grand style. The right-hand scale playing was very good, the big sound alleviated by short sections of repose. Mr. Wiens half pedaled many of the runs, the terrific Bizet themes pealing out with virtuosity, albeit not Horowitz, that seemed to push the limits of the piano and even the small Choral room.

One encore was offered, Mompou’s No. 6 from his Cançion i Danse Suite. The opening part (cantabile espressivo) was performed elegantly, in sharp contrast to the explosive rhythms of the concluding dance. A perfect encore.

The recital, played without score and in a snazzy concert tuxedo, was underwritten by Dorothy Sugawara, with area management by pianist and teacher Elizabeth MacDougall. Frank Wiens has at last ignited local interest in his artistry, to be on display again when he plays Grieg’s A Minor Concerto with the Ukiah Symphony Dec. 3 and 4 in Center Theater. A pianist worth discovering.