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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
HU'S ON FIRST, SECOND AND THIRD
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Music at Oakmont in their eight-concert season features mostly instrumental ensembles, and rarely pianists. But when they do the pianists are pretty good. Ching-Yun Hu's performance Feb.13 in Berger Auditorium, for example, was at a first-cabin level of virtuosity. A conventional repertoire first h...
RECITAL REVIEW
Astrologue Productions / Sunday, April 22, 2012
Kenn Gartner, pianist

Pianist Kenn Gartner

GARTNER PLAYS FAMILIAR CHOPIN IN APRIL 22 RECITAL AT MARIN'S J-B PIANO

by John Metz
Sunday, April 22, 2012

Marin pianist Kenn Gartner performed a recital April 22 at San Rafael’s J-B Piano. The all-Chopin program was not particularly adventurous but easily accessible for audiences and a safe bet for getting the more reluctant concertgoers to attend.

Mr. Gartner’s Chopin playing is refreshing because of the freedom, nonchalance, and rawness with which he plays familiar repertoire. In this 21st Century world of cookie-cutter super virtuosos, a pianist who has the guts to go onstage and just be himself is rare.

The program began with one of Chopin’s most famous melodies, familiar to even to those with limited knowledge of classical piano repertoire: the E-flat major Nocturne from Opus 9. Gartner took an unusually slow tempo to start, but soon abandoned it, adopting several other tempi throughout the piece. He utilized a vast palette of tonal colors, and there were some magical moments where the performer drew the listener in with surprising pianissimos and striking rubato. Though in general, the tone for this piece was muscular and the rhythm seemed amorphous.

One of the afternoon’s highlights was the epic G minor Ballade. As was true of the Nocturne, tempi in this work shifted dramatically throughout, which reduced the overall cohesiveness of the Ballade, and made what otherwise would be a united whole into more choppy vignettes of this, that, and the other. Mr. Gartner’s strength in the Ballade was his willingness to let go and pull out all the stops for the climaxes. And he gave new life to lines in the music that many performers often neglect. Yet there was often a sense of too much trying. Too much muscle in the tone, overplaying the rubato and wrong or missing notes.

The Two Nocturnes of Op. 27 are among Chopin’s best works in the genre. The first of the two, the Nocturne in C-Sharp Minor, has serene and introspective outer sections pitted against a dramatic whirlwind in the middle. And the second, in D-flat major is, or should be, nothing short of spiritual. I wanted to hear more tonal beauty in these performances, though I appreciated the pianist's careful attention to the often hidden musical lines of the D flat. And in the famous Military Polonaise of Op. 40, I missed the excitement of the polonaise rhythm. Mr. Gartner brought out the drama of the Op. 40 Polonaise in C minor, highlighting the abrupt and enormous dynamic contrasts within an overall melancholy quality. And he played the lovely G-flat major Impromptu, Op. 51, with great speed. Yet I wanted the pianist to charm the audience even more with this wonderfully wistful piece.

The recital closed with Chopin’s famous Heroic Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53. In this work the technical centerpiece is the rousing moto perpetuo bass octaves in the middle section. Mr. Gartner executed these with great facility and I appreciated that the octaves had shape and started quiet, growing louder only as the right hand melody grew, keeping the listener in suspense as he approached the more dramatic climaxes. As with most the afternoon’s playing, accuracy was lacking, and the tone seemed harsh. But then again, the Heroic Polonaise is a rather loud piece.

For an encore, there was the famous D-Flat Major Waltz from Op. 62, "Minute."