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Recital
THE BALLADE OF JUHO POHJONEN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Planning a piano program around a single theme or name can be tricky because cutesy connections can easily displace artistic merit. Fortunately, Juho Pohjonen's Sept. 14 recital in the inaugural "Sundays at Schroeder" concert was a textbook example of a successful theme--ballades--supported by wonde...
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 REVIEW
Redwood Arts Council / Saturday, February 11, 2012
Boris Andrianov, cello; Alexander Kobrin, piano

Alexander Kobrin and Boris Andrianov in Occidental (K. Broderson photo)

BRILLIANT RUSSIAN DUO IN REDWOOD ARTS COUNCIL OCCIDENTAL RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 11, 2012

It’s a rare occurrence in a cello recital that each programmed piece was both a masterwork of the literature and flawlessly performed, admitting nothing but awe and warm satisfaction from even the most seasoned string aficionado.

Such was the thrilling Redwood Arts Council recital of Boris Andrianov Feb. 11 in Occidental's Performing Arts Center before a packed house of 200. How does a flawless cello recital unfold? First a powerful pianist is needed, and the Russian Virtuoso Alexander Kobrin is just that. Next, a serious and demanding program is expected. No David Popper or Julius Klengel pieces. Finally, the cellist has to have a powerful interpretative personality, similar to but distinct from artists such as Casals, Piatigorsky, Rostropovich and DuPre.

Mr. Andrianov has this artistic stature and proved it quickly in the evening's initial work, Beethoven's C Major Sonata of Op. 102. The haunting opening theme moved effortlessly into the lyrical second theme and Mr. Andrianov underscored the many subtle dynamic contrasts. The Montagnana cello seemed to “growl” caressingly in the Adagio, preceding the introduction to the finale that alluded deftly to the first movement. Both artists securely built the momentum in a seamless partnership but kept distinct voices.

The first half closed with Britten’s Op. 65 Sonata in C, a commanding piece from 1961 in five disparate movements. The furious sections of musical interplay found Mr. Kobrin note perfect and never afraid of his left hand power, and Mr. Andrianov’s cello rich in the bottom register. The pizzicato opening of the Scherzo was magical, the plucking in the cello expected but Mr. Kobrin elicited nearly identical sound from his hammered string piano! His running passages were always clearly articulated, continuing into a perfectly balanced slow march of the Lento, the cello played with mute. Here the performers made the music sound like it was composed by Shostakovich, becoming clangorous and sonically surprising with long finger-board slides from the cellist. Mr. Andrianov all evening exhibited consummate bow control and a jumping spiccato bow in the energetic fifth movement Marcia.

Schumann’s three lush Op. 73 Fantasiestuck began the second part, the most popular piece on the program due partly to its many transcriptions for clarinet and French horn. But the tender and expressive sections sound perfect for the cello and Mr. Andrianov made the most of their romantic restlessness. The phrasing from both artists was patrician and the second part (Lebhaft leicht) elegant in every detail, especially in the pianist’s velvet arpeggios.

Italian composer Giovanni Sollima (b. 1962) is a cello master and his Lamentatio (1997) is a tour de force for solo cello, requiring a brilliant technique of the performer. Mr. Andrianov played the eight-minute work fearlessly and with radiant tone and dead-on pitch, as he did throughout the concert. The audience appeared astonished and excited at the potent reading of an unfamiliar composition.

Ending the recital was a pillar of 20th-Century music for cello, Shostakovich’s Op. 40 Sonata from 1934. Mr. Kobin’s introductory remarks, referring to the composer’s Fourth Symphony and opera Lady MacBeth of the Mtsensk from the same period, underscored the masterly invention of the opening Allegro. Here both musicians were interested in the long line, the contemplative first theme giving way to dramatic outbursts, always supported by Mr. Kobrin’s powerful sound and infallible left-hand octaves. Mr. Andrianov carefully widened his vibrato with increasing volume, symmetrically narrowing it with lowered sonority. The cellist played with concentration, eschewing the physical flamboyance of Misha Maisky without giving up one iota of tonal opulence.

As in many Shostakovich works, the themes can be initially banal but always take on complexity and become unforgettable in context, especially when performed with this duo’s artistry. The concluding Allegro was played with little string vibrato, beginning with mute but then quickly becoming vivacious and witty. This was playing with sweep and big gestures.

Mention needs to be made of the hall’s piano, a less than professional instrument with limited treble sustain, slow key repetition, damper leakage in loud chords and muddy bass tones. Mr. Kobrin’s approach was to give no quarter, making the inadequate instrument sing and roar as if it were without peer.

The two stellar Russians gave the finest cello recital in the North Bay since the Isserlis-Gerstein concert in Newman long ago. Their musical marriage was passionately united in the service of great music.