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Chamber
FINAL VOM MUSICIANS CONCERT IN SCHROEDER A SCHUBERT DELIGHT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, May 12, 2018
It's rare to have the opportunity to compare in a short period two performances of the same major Schubert work, in this case the great B Flat Piano Trio, D. 898. The chance came May 12 when the Valley of the Moon Festival musicians played it in Schroeder, just over a month since the Hall’s residen...
Symphony
FERRANDIS BIDS ADIEU WITH MAHLER’S FINAL SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 06, 2018
Sonoma State students in graduation robes posed for pictures and hugged each other at the university’s stone gates on Sunday afternoon, mirroring the prolonged farewells within the university’s Green Music Center, where Bruno Ferrandis bid adieu to the Santa Rosa Symphony after a dozen years at the ...
Symphony
SONIC SPLENDOR AT MARIN SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Abby Wasserman
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
The Marin Symphony Orchestra ended the current season with a flourish, interpreting big and small works by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky. Strauss and Stravinsky were contemporaries for 40 years, but inhabited different worlds. Both composers were affected by cataclysmic changes and war, and musical...
Symphony
ORGAN SYMPHONY IN SSU ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Though Classical Sonoma seldom reviews student concerts, as ample North Coast concerts keep the staff of 11 reviewers busy. But the chance to hear the Sonoma State University Orchestra tackle St. Saëns’ majestic Organ Symphony April 29 was a rare opportunity and not easily to be missed. Avec l’...
Recital
HEAVENLY SCHUBERT AND DEMONIC CHOPIN
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 21, 2018
One of the anomalies in the long ago “Golden Era” of romantic pianism (about 1905 to 1940) is that the virtuoso giants of the time didn’t play Schubert. It took the German pianist Artur Schnabel to bring the beauties of Schuber’s work to the public’s attention, and now they seem to be on almost ever...
Symphony
SPLENDID JUPITER AND ZOOMING CONCERTO AT VALLEJO SYMPHONY SEASON FINALE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Over the past two years the Vallejo Symphony has made big changes, moving from a stark middle school auditorium to the snazzy remodeled 1911-era downtown Empress Theater, and engaging Marc Taddei as its seventh conductor. April 15 was the season’s final concert of the 86th season. In a programmin...
Chamber
VIRTUOSO CELLO AND GUITAR TRANSCRIPTIONS AT RAC SEBASTOPOL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Listeners and yes even music critics usually prepare for a concert with research, checking recorded performances, looking at artist biographies and even reviewing sheet music. This was a difficult task for the April 14 Redwood Arts Council concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church, as the performers...
Chamber
TRIO NAVARRO'S POPULAR FARE IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Long time Classical Sonoma readers may recall many Trio Navarro concert reviews that lauded their virtuosity and interest in rarely played repertoire. The April 8 concert in Schroeder Hall before 85 chamber music fans featured sterling performances but had a mostly conservative menu of popular trio...
Recital
KENNER'S ALL POLISH RECITAL HAS PADEREWSKI RARITY
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, April 08, 2018
Kevin Kenner’s April 8 recital at Dominican University’s Angelico Hall had been advertised as all-Chopin, but he added a detour into another seminal Polish composer-pianist, Paderewski. Several of Mr. Kenner’s teachers were Poles, he speaks Polish, and he navigated at the piano both composers’ deman...
Symphony
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE VOICE AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, April 08, 2018
In an April 8 Santa Rosa Symphony concert filled to the brim with instruments--electric violin, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard samplers, harps, piano and myriad drums, gongs and bells, to say nothing of winds, brass and strings--the instrument that came out on top was the hum...
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.