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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
RECITAL REVIEW
Green Music Center / Sunday, February 26, 2017
Yu-Chien Tseng, violin; Chang-Yong Shin, piano

Yu-Chien Tseng (l) and Chang-Yong Shin Feb. 26 in Schroeder

BRILLIANT VIOLIN AND PIANO ARTISTRY CHARMS SCHROEDER HALL AUDIENCE

by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 26, 2017

A tiny Schroeder Hall audience heard a flawless recital Feb. 26 by Yu-Chien Tseng, arguably the best recent local violin recital since Gil Shaham’s transversal of the complete Bach Suites in Weill and Frank Almond’s Oakmont recital in 2015.

Muscular playing was the afternoon’s norm, and with pianist Chang-Yong Shin Mr. Tseng dived headlong into Mozart’s lovely B-Flat Major Sonata, K. 454. Contrapuntal lines were lucid, as were Mr. Shin’s scale passages in the hall’s clear acoustics. The allegro was weighty and dramatic, a nice contrast to the deep passionate thematic glow in the andante. Mr. Tseng exhibited a beautiful ability to softly and deftly swell on individual notes. The playing in the finale caught the brisk charm of the music, and there was effortless returning to the main theme. This Sonata seems to lead to Schubert’s music 20 years hence. It was a perfect beginning to a concert of prodigious accomplishment

Brawny playing continued in Brahms’ D Minor Sonata, Op. 108, but the score from 1888 can easily stand a powerful and often loud interpretation. All through the four-movement Sonata, the composer’s last, the unusual rhythms were mastered and the big repeated first movement section was sharply different from the first statement.

Despite initial pitch wobbles in the adagio Mr. Tseng quickly found his footing and played expressively and without affectations. Tempos throughout seemed just right, fast when needed but never hurried. The chorale section of the last movement briefly relieved the tension and the duo forged ahead to a roaring bass heavy Brahms ending. It was a dynamic performance with virtuoso work from both artists.

Following intermission Mr. Tseng returned for Bach’s solo Partita in D Minor, BWV 1004. Here again it was a mature and finished reading, stressing fluidity of phrase and omitting many of the short pauses often heard in this magnificent composition. Mr. Tseng played with even trills, no portamento, little rubato and at the end of the concluding Chaconne he held notes to unusual length. He did not emphasize his instrument’s lower register and instead established a balanced sonic architecture over the five extended dance-like sections. His Bach was worthy to stand with Mr. Shaham’s performance.

Closing the concert, which had no encore, was Wieniawski’s frothy but difficult Variations on and Original Theme, Op. 15. This was perhaps a Sonoma County premiere performance, and Mr. Tseng’s formidable technique was up to every skip, double stop, octave, slide, harmonic, sforzando and speedy scale. Mr. Shin did not shrink from the music foray, and in solo sections he played more forcefully and louder than his partner, which in this flashy 12-minute work took some doing.

The waltz ending and coda were brilliantly performed, and generated loud applause.