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Recital
ROBUST PLAYING IN KENNER'S ANGELICO HALL DEBUT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 09, 2014
Europe-based Kevin Kenner chose a husky program for his Marin debut recital Nov. 9 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall, and elected three masterpieces from the Romantic piano literature. Schubert’s C Major “Wanderer” Fantasy has nearly disappeared from recital programs, but it was a deft openi...
Recital
CHAMBER MUSIC MASTERY IN VALLEJO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CONCERT
by Elizabeth Warnimont
Sunday, November 09, 2014
The Vallejo Symphony Orchestra presented the first small group performance of its 2014-2015 season Nov. 9 in the casual setting of Vallejo’s First Presbyterian Church. Clarinetist Diane Maltester wowed the audience with stunning performances of pieces by well-known and rarely heard composers. “Dian...
Recital
FRANCK ORGAN WORKS SUBLIMELY PLAYED BY MANWELL IN CAS RECITAL
by Jim Harrod
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Organist Philip Manwell played a sublime recital of the major organ works of César Franck October 26 at Santa Rosa’s Resurrection Parish. The concert was a delightful treat both for those not acquainted with Franck’s organ music and for the many organists in the audience who have studied the Belgian...
Recital
THREE DISPARATE SONATAS HIGHLIGHT BELL'S SR SYMPHONY BENEFIT IN WELLS
by Nicki Bell
Friday, October 24, 2014
Superstar violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Alessio Bax made the Well Fargo Center their first stop Oct. 24 on their world tour, and it was a scintillating benefit recital for the Santa Rosa Symphony. Mr. Bellʼs virtuosity and musicianship have elicited universal critical praise including swe...
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...
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...
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...
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 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."