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Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY HERALDS THE HOLIDAYS
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 02, 2018
Antlers are typical headgear during the holiday season, but the ushers and one bassist at the Santa Rosa Symphony concert on Dec. 2 sported apples atop their heads. The red fruits were festive but perplexing until the orchestra began Rossini’s “William Tell” overture, at which point even the dull-wi...
Symphony
A HERO'S ODYSSEY IN SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Art Hofmann
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The audience at the Sonoma County Philharmonic’s Nov. 18 concert was warned at the outset that the old Santa Rosa High School auditorium boiler was turned off, and there was a steady eminently audible tone in the hall. Conductor Norman Gamboa said the tone was an A, a high one. But there it was, a...
Recital
MTA BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURES FAURE, DVORAK, JANACEK AND BARBER WORKS
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In a splendid concert Nov. 11 the Music Teachers Association of California, Sonoma County Chapter, presented their sixth annual benefit concert before 40 avid listeners in the Santa Rosa home of Helen Howard and Robert Yeats. Highlights of the performances, involving eight musicians in various perf...
Recital
SERKIN'S SINGULAR MOZART AND BACH PLAYING IN WEILL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 09, 2018
Returning to Weill Hall following a fire-related recital cancellation in 2017, pianist Peter Serkin programmed just three works in his Nov. 7 concert, three masterworks that challenged both artist and audience alike. It needs to be said at the outset that Mr. Serkin takes a decidedly non-standard a...
Chamber
LUMINOUS FAURE TOPS LINCOLN TRIO'S SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Familiarity in chamber music often evokes warm appreciation, and it was thus Nov. 7 when the Chicago-based Lincoln Piano Trio made one of their many Sonoma County appearances, this time on the Spring Lake Village Classical Music Series. Regularly presented by local impresario Robert Hayden, the Lin...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Brave New Music / Wednesday, February 04, 2015
Szymanowski Quartet. Agata Szymczewska and Grzegorz Koloq, violin; Vladimir Mykytka, viola; Marcin Sieniawski, cello

Szymanowski Quartet Feb. 4 in Healdsburg (N. Bell Photo)

INTENSE STRING PLAYING IN HEALDSBURG'S ALL-POLISH COMPOSER PROGRAM

by Nicki Bell
Wednesday, February 04, 2015

A surprise program change greeted a full house in Healdsburg’s SHED Grange Room Feb. 4 when the Szymanowski Quartet from Warsaw played an all-Polish composer concert. Judging by audience comments at intermission the displacement of an arrangement of a Mussorgsky work by Penderecki’s Third Quartet was a happy one.

The entire concert, produced by Brave New Music, was saturated by dramatics that reflected the evening’s theme - No Expressive Stone Unturned. The playing of this consummate ensemble infused the room with provocative music, beginning with the Quartet’s namesake “Nocturne and Tarantella” from 1915. Originally written for violin and piano the piece was arranged for the Szymanowski by Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk, and the contrasts between the gentle Nocturne and the increasingly percussive (and eventually fatal) tarantella were stark and angry.

Penderecki’s recent Quartet (“Leaves from an Unwritten Diary”) received a reading full of vitality and featured several gorgeous viola solos from Vladimir Mykytka. It’s written in one long movement with different scenes, and was commissioned by the Shanghai Quartet in 2008.

At the opening the music was wild and percussive, the string glissandos and shimmering tremolos becoming at times angry, and then reflective and lyrical. There were references to Bartok’s style in the primitive dance figurations and a dialogue of confrontation. The performance was virtuosic.

Following intermission and a position switch for violinists the Bacewicz Fourth String Quartet, based on Polish folk melodies, was performed. Here the dynamics were continuously nuanced, an exceptional accomplishment given the excitement of the playing and the tricky dance-like rhythms. Harmonies in this 1951 work were Brahmsian and then Ravelian, the latter with textures of teasing jazz.

The lovely slow movement was played with intertwined melodies from cellist Marcin Sieniaski and violinists Agata Szymczenska and Grzegorz Koloq, and the finale was a romp that could have come from Prokofiev. Wistful folk tunes turned into a frantic dance, reminding one of the Tarantella performed earlier in the program. The Quartet gave the Bacewicz heart-stopping intensity and a glowing and rapturous finish.

An ecstatic audience demanded an encore and it came with the Quartet’s own arrangement of a waltz from Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite. Recent research has shown the theme actually is from the Russian’s 1956 “Suite for Variety Orchestra” and became famous as a part of the soundtrack to the movie “Eyes Wide Shut.” It was a sweet and sincere ending to a kaleidoscopic concert of potent chamber music.

Contributing to this review were Linda McLaughlin and Vishnu.