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Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS FINDS HIS GROOVE SR SYMPHONY IN RACHMANINOFF
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, December 03, 2017
Last Sunday’s Santa Rosa Symphony concert featured two elegant and refined guests: music director candidate Andrew Grams and pianist Stewart Goodyear. Both displayed dazzling technique and consummate artistry, but Goodyear was the more consistent of the two. Some of Grams’ inconsistency may have st...
Symphony
SONIC SPLASH AND ENSEMBLE DELICACY AT SO CO PHIL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Franck’s wonderful D Minor Symphony is a rarity on today’s concert programs, and I can’t remember a North Bay performance in many years from any of the six resident area orchestras. So it was good to see the Sonoma County Philharmonic feature it in their Nov. 18 and 19 concerts at Santa Rosa High S...
Chamber
TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017
German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart. Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapun...
Chamber
RAVISHING SHORT OPERAS FROM FRENCH TROUPE IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 10, 2017
Standard Weill Hall fall and winter classical programs are pretty routine – symphonic music, chamber, solo recitals – so it was a rare treat Nov. 10 when just two works from the 17th century were gloriously presented. With such specialized compositions, period performers with commanding authenticit...
Symphony
MEI-ANN CHEN PROVES A WORTHY CONTENDER FOR SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY CONDUCTING POST
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, November 05, 2017
These days the focus of Santa Rosa Symphony concerts is as much on the conductor candidates as on the soloists. This past weekend’s concerts featured the second of those candidates, Mei-Ann Chen, along with pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, each of whom cut an imposing figure on the stage. Chen is diminut...
Symphony
TO RUSSIA WITH BRILLIANCE
by Terry McNeill
Friday, November 03, 2017
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s high velocity and frequently slam-bang virtuosity came to the Green Music Center last year with a thrilling and equally perplexing solo performance. So many in Weill Nov. 3 were interested to hear if his pianistic style would mesh well in a concerto, and with a fine ...
Symphony
THUNDEROUS TCHAIKOVSKY FOURTH OPENS MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
North Coast weather is turning cool and the nights longer, ideal for Tchaikovsky’s big boned symphonies. The Santa Rosa Symphony recently programmed the Fourth (F Minor Symphony) as did the San Francisco Symphony. Norman Gamboa’s Sonoma County Philharmonic just played the Tchaikovsky First, forgoi...
Recital
RESPIGHI'S PUNGENT SONATA HIGHLIGHTS KENNEY-GUTMAN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Respighi’s B Minor Violin Sonata seems never to gain conventional repertoire status. Perhaps the great Heifetz recording is intimidating, and I can recall over many years just two local performances: Jason Todorov and William Corbett-Jones years go in Newman, and a titanic reading in March by Anne S...
Chamber
MIRÓ QUARTET AND JEFFERY KAHANE PROVIDE MUSICAL RELIEF FOR FIRE-RAVAGED SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Sonoma County’s Green Music Center has stood silent but unscathed the past few weeks as the county begins to recover from the devastating fires that began on the evening of October 8, only a few hours after a Santa Rosa Symphony concert in the Music Center. Since then, concerts by the Symphony, the ...
Symphony
CONDUCTOR PLAYOFFS BEGIN IN SANTA ROSA
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The Santa Rosa Symphony is calling 2017-18 “a choice season” because the next few months offer the audience and the symphony’s board of directors a chance to choose a new conductor from a pool of five candidates. Each candidate will lead a three-concert weekend set this fall and winter, with a final...
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.