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Recital
IMPECCABLE ARTISTIC TASTE IN ANTON NEL SRJC RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Reporting on a recital by the Austin-based pianist Anton Nel is a predictably satisfying task. His playing Oct. 19 in SRJC’s Newman Auditorium mirrored a recital on the same stage nearly two years ago and showcased a high level of professionalism and artistry. Beginning with Mozart’s D Major "Dupor...
Symphony
BOUNDLESS BAROQUE ARTISTRY IN LIVE OAK SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Joanna Bramel Young
Sunday, October 19, 2014
On October 19 the Live Oak Baroque Orchestra, directed by baroque violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock, appeared in the first of several concerts it is to present at Schroeder Hall in Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center. The new 250-seat recital space is the perfect venue for chamber music, whi...
Chamber
AUTUMNAL BRAHMS IN WEILL CHAMBER MUSIC CONCERT
by Nicki Bell and Sonia Tubridy
Saturday, October 18, 2014
If you were in Weill Oct. 18 you might have experienced heaven, a Brahms heaven, when New York’s Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center played an all-Brahms concert in the Hall’s MasterCard Performance series. It was late Brahms which means rich emotional expression and deep and fluid themes. The...
Recital
PIANISM OF SUBSTANCE AND CONTROL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has had several past Sonoma County appearances, but her Oct. 16 Music at Oakmont recital exhibited a new and attractive level of resolute programming, instrumental mastery and impressive musicianship. She played three substantial works, including the opening Second Engl...
Symphony
BEYOND THE GOLDEN GATE
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Three works composed within three years of each other were programmed in the San Francisco Symphony’s concert in Weill Hall on Oct. 16, but each was sharply different. Before a nearly full house, conductor Stéphane Denève opened with Barber’s iconic Adagio for Strings, Op. 11, in a compelling but ...
Symphony
LATE-INNING HEROICS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Much like a home baseball team that scores the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, the Santa Rosa Symphony saved the best for last in its Sunday afternoon concert on Oct. 12. They led off with a tentative but ultimately captivating reading of Richard Strauss's "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks,...
Recital
MAGICAL GUITAR MASTERY IN KANENGISER'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Chloe Tucker
Friday, October 10, 2014
William Kanengiser is known to many in the classical guitar world as one of today’s most virtuosic players, and his recital October 10 in Sonoma State’s new Schroeder Hall was a fine testimony to his stellar reputation. Mr. Kanengiser took the stage with all the charming felicity of a player who si...
Symphony
PROPULSIVE BERLIOZ AND CONSUMMATE CONDUCTOR STAR AT MARIN SYMPHONY
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
It’s not an easy task to upstage the virtuoso cellist Zuill Bailey, but Marin Symphony conductor Alasdair Neale did it convincingly in a Sept. 30 concert at the Marin Center Auditorium. Mr. Bailey didn’t easily relinquish the starring role and played an eloquent and urbane performance in St. Saëns’...
Symphony
INTOXICATING ORCHESTRAL SONORITIES
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 28, 2014
For the first Sunday afternoon concert of their 16th season, on Sept. 28, the Sonoma County Philharmonic presented an all-Russian program that spotlighted intoxicating orchestral sonorities and heroic conducting from Norman Gamboa. He opened with a stunning performance of Kabalevsky's snappy overtur...
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 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.