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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
IMPECCABLE BEETHOVEN FROM THE ALEXANDER STRING QUARTET
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 09, 2014
In the classical music world, snazzy innovation and music puffery catch the headlines, but there is always a role for an instrumental group with long experience and impeccable artistic integrity. The Alexander String Quartet's Feb. 9 concert in the Sonoma Classical Chamber Music Series proved that d...
Recital
GALLIC PERFECTION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 22, 2013
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet has made French piano music a principal part of his career, but his artistry extends to far more than Gallic masterpieces, as he convincingly demonstrated in a Nov. 22 recital for the SRJC Chamber Concerts series. Before 180 in Newman Auditorium, Mr. Bavouzet opened with a spar...
Recital
TOUR DE FORCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Pianist Gustavo Romero has become a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing in several Santa Rosa halls and homes in recent years. On Nov. 1, he made his Marin County debut at Dominican University’s Guest Artist Series in Angelico Hall. The Dallas-based artist eschews stage flair and keeps remarks ...
Recital
ITALIAN ORGANIST PLAYS YON'S MUSIC IN CREATIVE ARTS SERIES RECITAL
by Jim Harrod
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Organist Emanuele Cardi played a recital of fiery virtuosity to an appreciative audience of organists and organ music fans October 20 in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Resurrection, opening the Creative Arts Series season. Mr. Cardi is organist and choirmaster at the Ghilardi and Carli organs of St. ...
Recital
MORE WORDS THAN NOTES
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Soheil Nasseri opened the 23rd Music at Oakmont season Oct. 17 in a piano recital where words from the artist nearly overwhelmed the offered music. Choosing an all-Beethoven program, Mr. Nasseri preceded the A Major Sonata, Op. 101, with words of personal introduction and humorous anecdotes. The wo...
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."