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Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now it seems to be on almost every...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
Chamber
TRIO NAVARRO'S POPULAR FARE IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Long time Classical Sonoma readers may recall many Trio Navarro concert reviews that lauded their virtuosity and interest in rarely played repertoire. The April 8 concert in Schroeder Hall before 85 chamber music fans featured sterling performances but had a mostly conservative menu of popular trio...
Recital
KENNER'S ALL POLISH RECITAL HAS PADEREWSKI RARITY
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Kevin Kenner’s April 8 recital at Dominican University’s Angelico Hall had been advertised as all-Chopin, but he added a detour into another seminal Polish composer-pianist, Paderewski. Several of Mr. Kenner’s teachers were Poles, he speaks Polish, and he navigated at the piano both composers’ deman...
Symphony
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE VOICE AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 08, 2018
In an April 8 Santa Rosa Symphony concert filled to the brim with instruments--electric violin, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard samplers, harps, piano and myriad drums, gongs and bells, to say nothing of winds, brass and strings--the instrument that came out on top was the hum...
Chamber
VOM FESTIVAL TRIO CHARMS WITH CHAMBER MIX, AND HUMMEL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 31, 2018
At the core of the group of Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) musicians is an ensemble of trios and duos, and as a trio March 31 Festival founders cellist Tanya Tomkins and pianist Eric Zivian joined British violinist Monica Huggett for a chamber music concert in the Green Music Center’s Schro...
Choral and Vocal
GOOD FRIDAY REQUIEM FILLS INCARNATION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 30, 2018
Maurice Duruflé’s short and intense Requiem has been heard in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation before, but the March 30 Good Friday performance was stripped down in the number of performers, combining Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir with musical underpinning from organist Robert Youn...
Symphony
HAMELIN'S HUSKY MOOD IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Convention in piano recitals has the artist coming on stage and playing. Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin walked on Schroeder Hall’s stage March 25 and didn’t play for six minutes, chatting with the audience. A risk for some artists. Then most programs include a contemporary or rarely play...
Recital
VIRTUOSIC VARIATIONS IN MORGAN'S SCHROEDER ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Organist Robert Huw Morgan’s artistry spun through the web of early variation form in a Mar. 18 recital on Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh organ. Mr. Morgan, Stanford University’s resident organist, performs a wide range of repertoire, but as he said in comments to the audience, he loves when h...
RECITAL REVIEW
Concerts Grand / Sunday, April 15, 2012
Natasha Paremski, piano

Natasha Paremski Bows April 15 Following The Hersch Variations

NATASHA PAREMSKI BRINGS DOWN THE HOUSE AND FINAL CONCERTS GRAND CURTAIN APRIL 15 IN NEWMAN

by Kenn Gartner
Sunday, April 15, 2012

Local favorite Natasha Paremski presented the final Concerts Grand recital of the ninth season April 15 with an eclectic program of super rare and super popular piano music. It was an exciting afternoon.

Miss Paremski is a deft verbal commentator with audiences and has great command of the instrument. Her octaves were almost like machine guns and her finger work in each of the five programmed pieces was elegant when necessary and forceful during passages which required strength.

The concert in SRJC’s Newman Auditorium began with Brahms’ F Sharp Major Sonata, Op.2, a work totally absent from programs in my memory. Her interpretation exceeded that of Julius Katchen, the pianist often associated with the recorded Brahms‘ oeuvre. Throughout the sonata there were huge contrasts in dynamics which helped delineate conversations between high and low registers, but occasionally this was accompanied by harsh sounds in the piano’s treble. The first movement begins with fistfuls of octaves done with drama and panache, and the second theme, two quarter notes plus a triplet, was heard clearly. The second movement developed large contrasts from piano
pianissimo to forte fortissimo and Ms. Paremski projected them with aplomb.

As with the program's concluding piece, Prokofiev's 7th Sonata, Brahms' third movement Scherzo allegro has a "military" configuration and difficult grace-note turns, which at speed are pesky, but here they were clear and sounded like explanations. The finale's subtle repeat showed how the artist could shade recurrent motives, albeit with a pedal that often blurred the line. It was rushed playing. The pianist's body English was ever present and enjoyed by the nearly packed audience. A standing ovation was the reward.

Jazz pianist Fred Hersch's Variations on a Theme from Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony closed th first half, in its second performance anywhere. The premiere was April 14 at Sacramento State University. Written for Miss Paremski, the variations are not traditional in any sense and are tonal throughout with lots of 16th notes in both hands and triplets abounding. One variation had the left hand doing figurations over the right, followed by the right over the left, and the pianist wasn't happy with the results, saying "thanks Fred" and began the phrase again. The crowd loved her insoucience and me too. These innovative variations were certainly diverse: a tango, high register song, a Joplin knock off, bitonatity. New music performance is to be applauded and the composer Guillaume Machaut said "anything not composed within the past two weeks is not worth listening to."

Using the score, the performance didn't sound like it was sight read. Mr. Hersch could not have a better advocate for his work.

Two Chopin works began the second half, the dramatic F Minor Fantasie and the D Flat Berceuse (Op.57) with its rocking left hand ostinato figuration. In the Fastasie, one of Chopin's greatest works, Ms. Paremsky underscored the improvisitory and march-like passages, and in the sorcery of the Berceuse the ascending and descending right-hand arabesques were played with delicacy. The Fantasie was a "modern" performance with little rhythmic flexibility but interesting sforzando effects. It was a big boned conception.

Prokofiev's B-Flat Sonata was billed as the artist's signatue piece and she pushed the already fast tempos in the outer movements. The opening Allegro inquieto has a passage of nearly 32 bars which gets louder and faster and more agitato, and here Ms Paremski drove the envelope at least as far as Horowitz, and it was thrilling. The bluesy, jazzy interlude of a a second movement (a rose between two thorns?) received a calm and thoughtful interprepation, setting the stage for the famous precipitato finale. Here the 7/8 meter has an ostinato consisting of five notes over two measures, played in octaves. This is similar to the "clave" in Latin music. She stormed though it with hardly a nod to rubato or release, but the composer was said to have wanted it played like a machine.

Naturally it generated a storm of applause and Ms. Paremski returned to play Rachmaninoff's lovely C minor Etude Tablauex from Op.33. Here she phrased the captivating melody in what is really a nocturne with elegance and almost nostalgia.