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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 it seems to be on almost every...
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
VOM FESTIVAL TRIO CHARMS WITH CHAMBER MIX, AND HUMMEL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, March 31, 2018
At the core of the group of Valley of the Moon Music Festival (VOM) musicians is an ensemble of trios and duos, and as a trio March 31 Festival founders cellist Tanya Tomkins and pianist Eric Zivian joined British violinist Monica Huggett for a chamber music concert in the Green Music Center’s Schro...
Choral and Vocal
GOOD FRIDAY REQUIEM FILLS INCARNATION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 30, 2018
Maurice Duruflé’s short and intense Requiem has been heard in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation before, but the March 30 Good Friday performance was stripped down in the number of performers, combining Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir with musical underpinning from organist Robert Youn...
Symphony
HAMELIN'S HUSKY MOOD IN SCHROEDER RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Convention in piano recitals has the artist coming on stage and playing. Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin walked on Schroeder Hall’s stage March 25 and didn’t play for six minutes, chatting with the audience. A risk for some artists. Then most programs include a contemporary or rarely play...
Recital
VIRTUOSIC VARIATIONS IN MORGAN'S SCHROEDER ORGAN RECITAL
by Paul Blanchard
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Organist Robert Huw Morgan’s artistry spun through the web of early variation form in a Mar. 18 recital on Schroeder Hall’s wonderful Brombaugh organ. Mr. Morgan, Stanford University’s resident organist, performs a wide range of repertoire, but as he said in comments to the audience, he loves when h...
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.