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Chamber
WINDS BLOW SWEETLY IN WEST COUNTY
by Philip Beard
Sunday, March 01, 2015
March 1 was the perfect date for a rousing wind-groups concert at the Occidental Center for the Arts. Two local groups, the Coastal Winds Woodwind Quintet and the 5th Avenue Brass Quintet, did themselves proud before a near-sellout crowd. The performance was to benefit the host Center, currently r...
Choral and Vocal
A DEFINITIVE ST. MATTHEW AT ABS BELVEDERE CONCERT
by Joanna Bramel Young
Friday, February 27, 2015
The American Bach Soloists performed Bach’s timeless St. Matthew Passion Feb. 27 to a sold-out audience at St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere. In the account of Christ’s last hours as set forth by evangelist Matthew, the Passion stands supreme, beside the Mass in B Minor, as Bach’s finest creation. ...
Symphony
HEALDSBURG PHILHARMONIA PLAYS THE RAVEN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Les Pfutzenreuter is a conductor that gets around, moving from his Ukiah base at Mendocino College and the Ukiah Symphony to festival and concert appearances with many orchestras. February 22 found him with the Healdsburg Philharmonia in that City’s Raven Theater with works of Copland and Tcha...
Symphony
CHAMPAGNE ORGY OF SWISS ORCHESTRA'S SOUND IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Orchestras on tour usually perform hefty display works to showoff their virtuosity and power. And so it was with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (OSR) Feb. 14 in Weill Hall. Big works, weighty display. And in a surprise the compositions by Stravinsky and Ravel in the second half did the rare th...
Symphony
LENGTH? HEAVENLY LENGTH AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 14, 2015
A Bruckner Symphony performance can be a demanding task for both the orchestra and audience, as each of the nine are long and musically wandering. But not all that wander are lost, as the Sonoma County Philharmonic proved in their Feb. 15 concert in the Santa Rosa High School Performing Arts Center...
Symphony
BOLD OPERATIC AND SYMPHONIC CONTRASTS IN SF SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Nicki Bell
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Pianist Peter Serkin and San Francisco Symphony Laureate conductor Herbert Blomstedt pulled musical extremes together on Feb. 12 in Weill Hall Symphony concert where artistic experience was a defining factor. From the warmth and humor of Mozart’s F Major Piano Concerto, K. 459, to the turmoil, drama...
Symphony
A BANDONEONIST WALKS INTO A BAR ...
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 08, 2015
Seeing a bandoneón player in front of a symphony orchestra reminds one of the old joke about a kangaroo walking into a high-priced bar. The bartender says, "We don't get many kangaroos in here," to which the kangaroo replies, "With these prices, I can see why." Likewise, if a bandoneónist were to wa...
Chamber
INTENSE STRING PLAYING IN HEALDSBURG'S ALL-POLISH COMPOSER PROGRAM
by Nicki Bell
Wednesday, February 04, 2015
A surprise program change greeted a full house in Healdsburg’s SHED Grange Room Feb. 4 when the Szymanowski Quartet from Warsaw played an all-Polish composer concert. Judging by audience comments at intermission the displacement of an arrangement of a Mussorgsky work by Penderecki’s Third Quartet w...
Chamber
KNOTTY CELLO MUSIC THAT WAS (MOSTLY) EASY TO LOVE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 01, 2015
Notable cello concerts have recently graced Sonoma County with Edward Arron’s Oakmont recital and Yo Yo Ma’s sterling solo outing in Weill. So it was not surprising that Sæunn Thorsteindóttir walked onto the Schroeder Hall stage Feb. 1 with pianist Elizabeth Roe and found a packed house of non-Supe...
Symphony
ZOOLOGICAL THEME RESOUNDS IN SPLENDID VSO HOGAN CONCERT
by Elizabeth Warnimont
Sunday, January 25, 2015
A pair of virtuosic young pianists wowed the crowd Jan. 25 at the Vallejo Symphony Orchestra concert in Vallejo’s Hogan Auditorium, and part of the proceeds from the mostly animal-themed music benefited the Humane Society of the North Bay. Symphony conductor David Ramadanoff warmed up the afternoon...
RECITAL REVIEW
Santa Rosa Junior College Chamber Concerts / Sunday, January 15, 2012
Alexander Barantschik, violin; Robin Sutherland, piano

Violinist Alexander Barantschik

BARANTSCHIK AND FUKUHARA IN GLOWING FOUR SONATA NEWMAN RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 15, 2012

The program for Alexander Barantschik’s violin recital Jan. 15 in Newman Auditorium was not at first glance auspicious. And not because of the merits of the four sonatas, as all are masterpieces of the standard repertoire. The critical quandary was that the program was so conventional, the pieces comfortable for the artist, who as the San Francisco Symphony Concertmaster presumably has minimal practice time in less-often-played repertoire. Sonatas by Elgar, Faure, Respighi, Dohnanyi, Paderewski, Strauss, Rubinstein, Busoni, Reger and St. Saens would have been welcome for a Sonoma County audience.

And lowering the bar for an orthodox music menu, Mr. Barantschik’s partner in the San Francisco Symphony, Robin Sutherland, was unable to play and on short notice Akimi Fukuhara replaced him at the piano, flying in from Japan.

All this in hand, how was the playing in what was offered? Very fine indeed, beginning with Beethoven’s first Sonata in D Major, Op. 12, No. 1. Playing from score as he did all afternoon (understandable given a new pianist), Mr. Barantschik’s reading had a light touch throughout, echoed by the lovely and fast scales from his partner, her trills in both hands shimmering. A wider vibrato characterized the Andante con Moto second movement, still with a chaste tone. The tempos were brisk in the finale with Ms. Fukuhara pushing the pace and underlining subtle off-beat dissonances. Mr. Barantschik carefully controlled the final short chords, eliminating vibrato on several and then deftly adding it at the penultimate three.

Brahms’ G Major Sonata, Op. 78, closed the first half and began in a stately, almost leisurely way. It was a performance under the violinist’s complete bow control, and perhaps on balance a little understated. Mr. Barantschik’s tone could be slightly dry at times, particularly in fast passages close to the bridge, but always rich in the lower registers. Ms. Fukuhara chose not to emphasize a sonorous bass at the movement’s end, producing a muted sound, but Mr. Barantschik preceded his final two chords with old fashioned appoggiaturas. A lovely conceit.

The following Adagio unfolded with great charm, the highlight being a threnody line for the violin romantically played over a soft ostinato piano part. The concluding Allegro molto brings back themes from the first two movements and Mr. Barantschik wove them into a rich Brahmsian fabric that was both tender and contented.

Following a long intermission the audience returned for two more expertly-played sonatas, Mozart’s E Minor (K. 304) and the great Franck in A Major. The two-movement Mozart work, a Parisian sonata from 1778, was performed with an elegant interplay of voices. The instrumental balances were good and only in a few isolated places the artists were not in sync. The piano sporadically covered the violin line in the Tempo di menuetto in this Beethovenesque work, but careful legato and even chord playing from the duo produced musical optimism (when in E Major) from the prevailing sad tone of the entire piece.

Franck’s Sonata was admired by his contemporaries and has been a staple for virtuosos since the Ysaÿe premiere in 1886. Mr. Barantschik phrased the graceful opening movement with great care and Ms. Fukuhara’s piano part had larger sonority and impact than in the previous works. The reverse characterized the fiery and turbulent Allegro, Ms. Fukuhara’s scales quicksilver but lacking needed heft in the bass, and the violinist’s thematic projection potent in his top range. In the improvisatory Recitativo the music soared, the playing the finest of the concert. Mr. Barantschik held the fermata at the end, a captivating effect.

This richness of the duet continued in the canonic finale (Allegretto), each instrument playing off the other with majesty, the bits of previous movement themes masterly interwoven and leading to an exalted ascending violin scale and piano run at the end. It was a fervent and committed Franck throughout.

A standing ovation from the audience of 190 erupted, and despite repeated curtain calls, there was no encore to extend what was arguably the best local violin recital since Mr. Barantschik's colleague, Nadia Tichman, played four years ago in Oakmont.