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Symphony
BACH'S MIGHTY MASS ENDS MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Paula Mulligan
Saturday, July 23, 2016
For the final concert of the Mendocino Music Festival July 23 Alan Pollack conducted the Festival Orchestra and Chorus in just one work, Bach’s B Minor Mass.  The orchestra, much reduced in size to suit the needs of the sparser scoring and the character of the composition’s period, ably supported th...
Chamber
SCHUBERT'S THEMES OF YOUTH AND DEATH AT VOM MUSIC FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, July 23, 2016
The beautiful new Hanna Boys Center auditorium in Sonoma Valley was the setting for the July 23 concert of the Valley of the Moon (VOM) Music Festival, now in it’s second year. Directors Tanya Tomkins and Eric Zivian have created a Festival of Classical and Romantic repertoire played on period inst...
Other
LATE BEETHOVEN EXPLORED AT MMF CONCERT IN PRESTON HALL
by Paula Mulligan
Thursday, July 21, 2016
The Mendocino Music Festival performance in Preston Hall July 22 was titled “Late Beethoven,” and was the final presentation in the tribute to the composer that was part of this year’s Festival.  Pianist Susan Waterfall has been giving a series of lecture dealing with Beethoven’s life and music, and...
Symphony
HEROISM AND SUBTLETY IN ALL-BEETHOVEN MMF CONCERT
by Paula Mulligan
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Much of the emphasis of this year’s Mendocino Music Festival has been about Beethoven, and a series of small venue performances with Beethoven lectures by Festival co-director Susan Waterfall preceded the July 20 orchestra performance in the big tent on Mendocino’s main street. From the opening bar...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENT SOUND AT VOM FESTIVAL'S OPENING CONCERT AT HANNA CENTER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 17, 2016
Every summer music festival has a unique character, and the Valley of the Moon Music Festival in Sonoma has the singular character of stressing period instruments that sound well for mostly period repertoire. In the Festival’s opening concert July 17 this was best in evidence for two Beethoven wor...
Recital
BALANCED VIRTUOSITY IN ATZINGER MMF RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Pianist Christopher Atzinger’s Mendocino Music Festival recital July 16 in the small Preston Hall looked formidable on paper larded with what might be said to be “non festival, non summer” music. There were no light Gershwin or Schubert dance works, and for some the six pieces from Brahms’ Op. 118 ...
Opera
ONE-NIGHT STAND AT MMF'S ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 15, 2016
Mozart’s Opera “Abduction from the Seraglio” has a long reputation as being tough for singers, and it was with some trepidation that I entered the Mendocino Music Festival’s massive white tent July 15 to hear and see the new production from the 30th season. Not to Worry. Conducted by Festival Arti...
Recital
OF ANGELS, DEMONS AND ENCORES
by Kayleen Asbo
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Each successive event at this summer’s Mendocino Music Festival has brought an unfolding cornucopia of delights. Elements of the exceptional three previous classical programs coalesced July 14 into a magnificent and singular tour de force when pianist Robert Henry traversed the entire topography of...
Other
ANGUISH AND TRIUMPH IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL'S BIG TENT
by Kayleen Asbo
Sunday, July 10, 2016
The Mendocino Music Festival is highlighting Beethoven this summer, and July 10’s program in the tent could have appropriately borrowed the subtitle from Jan Swafford’s 2014 biography of the composer, Anguish and Triumph. The Festival’s second classical concert paired two Beethoven works wit...
Chamber
BACHANALIAN BEGINNING AT MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kayleen Asbo
Saturday, July 09, 2016
In ancient Greece there were two gods of music, representing two different musical principles. Apollo, God of the Sun, was associated with intellectual clarity, and his was a kind of music that focused on order, balance, refinement and mathematical precision. Dionysus (known to the Romans of a lat...
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.