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Symphony
SO CO PHIL BON VOYAGE CONCERT AN ODYSSEY OF CONTRASTING SOUND
by Terry McNeill
Friday, June 15, 2018
In a splashy bon voyage concert June 15 the Sonoma County Philharmonic Orchestra launched its June 17-25 Costa Rica tour, performing gratis in Santa Rosa’s Jackson Theater the repertoire for tour concerts in San José, Costa Rica’s capital, and in surrounding towns. Conductor Norman Gamboa pr...
Chamber
COMMANDING CHOPIN AND DEBUSSY IN SLV RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Concerts at the classy Spring Lake Village Retirement Home in Santa Rosa have admission limited to residents and a few guests, but the chance to hear a first cabin North Bay pianist June 6 brought a Classical Sonoma reviewer into the audience of 100. The crowd numbers were unusually low due to a ba...
Recital
MUSICAL ALCHEMY INSIDE A HIDDEN GEM
by Kayleen Asbo
Friday, May 25, 2018
The Petaluma Historical Library and Museum is a hidden gem of Sonoma County, a gracious building that is one of Sonoma County’s loveliest venues for chamber music concerts, with a fine period piano particularly suited to Romantic music.  Of the surprisingly large array of festivities there, one of t...
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...
RECITAL REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Spencer Myer, piano.

Pianist Spencer Meyer July 22 in Preston Hall

MYER'S MENDO FESTIVAL RECITAL SPOTLIGHTS MOZART TO BALCOM

by Terry McNeill
Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Completing the Mendocino Music Festival’s piano series July 22 was an energetic recital by returning Festival artist Spencer Myer. The nearly full Preston Hall audience was treated to a program, announced from the piano, that had broad musical appeal and panache.

Exploring the Festival’s Mozart theme, Mr. Myer played the G Major Sonata, K. 283, with grace, balanced scales and seamless right-hand trills. The following Adagio and robustPresto unfolded with
silky grace and speed but without compelling inner voices or unique touches.

Schumann’s C Major Fantasia, Op. 17, closed the first half, the composer’s greatest large-scale work. In the opening movement the pianist brought extremes of dynamic range and declarative themes in the right hand to the emotional score that only resolves into C Major in the final 25 measures. The tempo taken in the famous march movement was fast, tempered by judicious pedaling and an occasional solo note held in the treble to effect. The contrary motion skips that bedevil so many pianists didn’t trouble Mr. Myer.

The finale (Langsam) was played with a poetically flowing stream of sound, punctuated by two big climaxes. The final three pianissimo chords were captivating. A standing ovation ensued.

Ravel’s F-Sharp Major Sonatine began the second half and was given a polished interpretation in Modéré with the most beguiling tone color of the afternoon, especially when the artist played softly. The Animé had a shimmering quality with subtle rubato and deft pedaling. The performance had lots of charm.

In his remarks to the audience Mr. Myer noted that Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie, Op. 61, was a complex tone poem pointing the way to the Polish composer’s last works. His playing underscored the rhythmic characteristics of the dance form while the music opened into novel (for 1846) harmonies and an improvisatory and meditative middle section. There was an extended pause at the end before the final loud chord.

Three of William Balcom’s popular piano rags closed the program in grand style, and the artist seemed to enjoy the excitement caused by the sprightly “Old Adam” two step and the “Graceful Ghost.” The rag fantasy “Serpent’s Kiss” was the most complex and taxing work of the three, and the audience (me too) loved the gymnastic finger technique Mr. Myer applied to “Kiss.”

One encore was offered, Earl Wild’s variations on Gershwin’s 1930 hit from “Girl Crazy,” I got Rhythm. The pianist conquered the difficult close cross-hand figurations with ease and flair.