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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
Music at Oakmont / Thursday, March 09, 2017
Einav Yarden, piano

Pianist Einav Yarden

NOVEL HAYDN AND SCHUMANN IN YARDEN'S OAKMONT RECITAL

by Terry McNeill
Thursday, March 09, 2017

Israeli pianist Einav Yarden has been a frequent Sonoma County visitor, playing private recitals for Spring Lake Village and Concerts Grand, and twice performing for Music at Oakmont.

The Berlin-based artist returned to Oakmont’s Berger Auditorium March 9 with a program that was neither for connoisseurs nor for popular taste, but was full of rarely-played music from always-played composers. Somehow Beethoven’s magisterial A-Flat Major Sonata managed to get into the mix.

Ms. Yarden has been specializing lately in Haydn’s middle period sonatas, and it was refreshing to hear a work for the first time, the F Major No. 44. She played it very well, using a lot of damper pedal at the end of phrases and keeping the drama small-scaled but effective. The pianist underscored the stylistic diversity and innovation of the opening moderato and paid careful attention to harmonic nuances, of which there are many in this work that doesn’t have the usual level of the composer’s playfulness. The adagio was lovely, the tempo just right.

Schumann’s last set of three Fantasiestücke, Op. 111, closed the first half. Here again the artist played the swirling phrases and sweep of the C Minor in a beguiling tempo, and made the lovely and fragmentary A Flat (No. 2) sound a little like Brahms. But only a little, as Schumann’s harmonies prevailed, as they did in the march like C Major finale that had echoes of the great march from the Op. 17 Fantasy in the same key. Ms. Yarden played the simple theme and quick descending motifs flawlessly, which made the middle section sound all the more graceful.

Following intermission the composer’s Waldszenen, Op. 82, received a performance that stressed the connective tissue between the nine sections: tonal balances, asymmetrical phrasings and many staccato chords and even phrases. There seems to be no forte chords in this piece from 1849, and the entire recital eschewed loud outbursts of sound. Highlights of the playing included the contrapuntal lines in “Solitary Flowers,” poetic and almost flighty playing in the B Flat “Friendly Landscape”, and the extended questioning and a long and delicate decrescendo at the conclusion of “The Prophet Bird.”

Many of the themes in Forest Scenes harken to Schumann lieder, especially the Op. 25 songs “Myrthen,” and Ms. Yarden captured these aural references with idiomatic phrasing and pellucid tone color.

Beethoven’s penultimate Op. 110 Sonata closed the program in a polished and never bass-heavy reading. This glorious Sonata from 1821 is deeply expressive in its three semi-distinct movements, and Ms. Yarden treated the opening moderato in a leisurely manner, amiable and always eloquent. She was never in a hurry

This approach characterized the figurations in the scherzo-like allegro molto and the lyric introduction to the noble fugue. Textures were clear and the cantabile was limpid. It was persuasive Beethoven playing, vivid and convincing. If there was any interpretative misstep it came at the end when the final five bars lacked the non legato punch down to the final a-flat note and the upward push to the last raw fortissimo chord. The musical ecstasy was just missed.

No encore was offered.

Four of Beethoven’s early and seldom-played Op. 33 Bagatelles opened the recital, and each was a gem. Mr. Yarden’s tempos were ideal, as was careful half-pedaling and in No. 2 spotlighting Beethoven’s sly humor. In the will-of-the-wisp No. 7 she played scales and quick repeated notes impeccably.