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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...
Symphony
DVORAK AND TCHAIKOVSKY ORCHESTRAL COLOR AT SO CO PHIL SEASON OPENER
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 30, 2017
A concert with curious repertoire and splashy orchestral color launched the 19th season of the Sonoma County Philharmonic Sept. 30 in Santa Rosa High School’s Auditorium. Why curious? Conductor Norman Gamboa paired the ever-popular Dvorak and his rarely heard 1891 trilogy In Nature’s Realm, with t...
Recital
ELEGANT PIANISM IN WATER MUSIC CHARMS HOUSE RECITAL AUDIENCE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, September 03, 2017
A standard component of house concerts often involve listeners hearing the music but also smelling the lasagna and seeing the champagne in the adjacent kitchen. But it was not the case Sept. 3 at Sandra Shen’s Concerts Grand House Recital performance, as her riveting piano playing enthralled the sm...
Chamber
YOUNG MUSICIANS SHINE AT PIANO SONOMA CONCERT
by Lee Ormasa
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
The third in a series of four concerts by Piano Sonoma artists in residence, part of the Vino and Vibrato Series, was held August 1 in Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. Entitled “The Masters,” the program included works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. Piano Sonoma is a summer artist-in...
Chamber
THRILLING PROGRAM CLOSES VOM CHAMBER FESTIVAL AT HANNA CENTER
by Lee Ormasa
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The finale of the two-week Valley of the Moon Music Festival closed July 30 with “The Age of Bravura” concert at the Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. The musical selections held to this year’s Festival theme “Schumann’s World - His Music and the Music He Loved.“ This summer Festival features chamber mus...
Chamber
PERIOD INSTRUMENTAL SOUND AT PENULTIMATE VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In the Valley of the Moon Chamber Music Festival’s penultimate concert July 30 the perennial issue of period and modern instruments was apparent. But only in the concluding Mendelssohn Trio, as the performances in the two first half works easily avoided instrumental comparisons. Clara Schumann’s t...
Chamber
ECLECTIC REPERTOIRE IN FETCHING VOM FESTIVAL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One of the purposes of summer music festivals is to present unfamiliar music in an attractive and often small audience setting. The Valley of the Moon Music Festival delightfully met these requirements July 22 and 23 with two concerts in the small hall at Sonoma’s Hanna Boys Center. Classical Sono...
Recital
ADAMS' PHRYGIAN GATES HIGHLIGHTS MORKOSKI FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Attendees at the Molly Morkoski Mendocino Music Festival recital July 22 were in for a treat, both pianistically and if they happened to buy a tasty cookie during intermission. The program included Beethoven’s Op. 27 Moonlight Sonata, Adams’ Phrygian Gates, a surprise add-on of Grieg’s Holberg Suit...
Symphony
SOARING VERDI REQUIEM CLOSES 31ST MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Lee Ormasa
Saturday, July 22, 2017
We speak frequently about how there is nothing like the experience of a live performance. Seldom was this truer than at the July 22 closing performance of the two-week Mendocino Music Festival. The Festival Orchestra, conducted by of Allan Pollack, joined with the Festival Chorus in a moving renderi...
Recital
ORGAN REGISTRATION MASTERY HEARD IN WALHAIN'S RECITAL
by Robert Young
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
A group of 65 lucky attendees July 18 had the pleasure of hearing Etienne Walhain’s recital at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa. Mr. Walhain is organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Tournai, Belgium, and played to a varied program Bach, Franck, and Reger. He used the tonal resource...
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.