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Recital
SCHUMANN AND BARTOK HIGHLIGHT BRONFMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Lee Ormasa
Friday, April 21, 2017
Those people once addicted to the “Angry Birds” game application likely suffered an auditory flashback during the opening measures of the allegro from Bartok’s Suite, Op. 14, the opening work in Yefim Bronfman’s April 21 recital at Weill Hall. The repetitive opening figures of the Bartok were...
Recital
SLAM BANG SONORITY IN HAOCHEN ZHANG'S SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Piano Competition winners are in ample supply, and it’s often a hit and miss proposition as to their sterling interpretative qualities. However, the quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition in Ft. Worth has continually produced top-level artists, and the 2009 winner Haochen Zhang proved a formidable per...
Recital
MUSCULAR PIANISM DOMINATES MILL VALLEY CHAMBER SOCIETY RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 12, 2017
Piano recitals since the beginning of the genre open with finger pieces - Scarlatti or Soler Sonatas, Bach, a Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue or perhaps Mozart or Haydn. Sarah Daneshpour’s March 12 opening work at the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society series abruptly avoided the norm with the 10-minut...
Recital
NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont. The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connois...
Recital
BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017
A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015. Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianis...
Recital
RISKY SPEED IN POTENT LUO RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Each half of pianist Wei Luo’s Schroeder Hall recital Jan. 22 contained beguiling interpretations and consummate technical command of Shostakovich and Albeniz works, but each half finished with less than exalted playing. Two of Shostakovich’s Op. 87 Preludes and Fugues opened the recital, from the ...
Recital
COLORFUL SCHUBERT AND CHOPIN WARM WEILL HALL IN AX RECITAL
by Nicki Bell
Friday, January 20, 2017
On a stormy winter evening Jan. 20 a rainbow of colorful Schubert and Chopin music came from the fingers, feet and heart of pianist Emanuel Ax.  Playing at the Weill Hall for the first time, this recital was a tribute to beauty in the arts. It conveyed the value and glory of balance, lyricism and el...
Recital
SOUND AND FURY IN MATSUEV WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 22, 2016
A touring virtuoso’s reputation often precedes him or her, and usually that’s a good thing. The reputation of a Renée Fleming or a Yo Yo Ma can guarantee a sold out hall, and possibly a great concert. But not always, and so there was some concern at Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s Oct. 23 Weill re...
Recital
ARTISTRY AND AMPLE RELAXED CHARM AT PERLMAN RECITAL IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Itzhak Perlman has fashioned a career that encompasses more than virtuoso violin performance, and includes teaching, narrating musical documentaries, score editing, humanitarian projects, charity events and an often an easy “ah shucks” demeanor that is always beguiling. With pianist Rohan de Silva ...
Recital
MORGAN'S ORGAN VIRTUOSITY SHINES IN ALL BACH RECITAL IN SCHROEDER
by James Harrod
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Robert Huw Morgan, Stanford University’s consummate organist, returned to the Green Music Center’s Schroeder Hall October 16 to play a thrilling recital of great Bach organ music from mostly Bach’s Cöthen period. Professor Morgan’s eclectic program included the Prelude and Fugue in E Flat Major, B...
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."